Morija Museum & Archives Projects
Morija Museum & Archives is involved as well in a wide range of projects. These projects assist the museum to modernise, and increasing its vision and reach. The generosity in terms of funding and in-kind support by various partner organisations, businesses, and individuals helps to make these projects a reality.
Although many partners have assisted MMA with regard to the enhancement of equipment and infrastructure, as well as a smaller number involving book publishing or training, or digitisation, only a few selected projects/initiatives are listed below:
Sound Connects Project 2022
A major project administered by the Music in Africa Foundation entitled ‘Re-appropriating Lesotho’s Cultural Heritage through New Media’. Key components include detailed research and documentation of seven traditional instruments, many of them near extinction; production of learning resources that can be used in schools to meet the requirements of the new curriculum; a digital archive of documentation and learning resources; training of performers, as well as teacher trainees and music staff at the Lesotho College of Education in the making and playing of these instruments; interventions in terms of policy and the media; and production of an animated film based upon a quasi-traditional tale which incorporates traditional instrumental music. All of these components are intended to give greater social value to these instruments, which might be further adapted in order to be incorporated into different music genres and modern performance contexts.
Seriti sa Makhoarane Heritage Tourism Project (SSM) 2016 to present
Building upon the rich heritage, living culture, and stunning environment of the greater Makhoarane area, which includes the core area of Morija, the Wellspring of Learning, and the three adjacent Royal Villages of Matsieng, Makeneng and Phahameng, SSM seeks to preserve, document, present and promote these resources in order to enhance social cohesion, education, tourism, and sustainable livelihoods, as well as attract new investment in terms of private enterprise and public infrastructure.
The components and processes undertaken over the period from 2016 are multiple, but in short, the focus has been on community mobilisation and membership; developing leadership structures, a constitution, and Trust Fund; formulating project documents and gaining the buy-in of the Government of Lesotho; carrying out Heritage Mapping exercises, developing tourism trails, and preparing Technical Drawings / Master Plan for the Royal Village of Lerotholi at Makeneng as the first major intervention; and finally raising the necessary resources to move forward.,
The Hub @ Morija 2015 to present
The groundwork for opening a digital creativity lab was laid in the years leading up to 2015 when this new facility was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen. It provides internet access, learning materials (especially online) and training in IT for students, as well as photography, film, and related new media, as well as writing skills, with a strong social message and emphasis on building personal responsibility and leadership among youth. A multitude of events, activities and other initiatives have developed as a result of its pioneering team.
Morija Arts Centre 2011 to present
A Craft Centre has been functioning under the auspices of the Morija Museum since 1995, but from 2007 efforts were made to establish a more ambitious initiative that would impact broadly. The Morija Arts Centre (connected to the Maeder House Gallery) was officially opened in mid-2011 by His Majesty the King with the expectation that it would become home to a community of artists. Over the years, it has developed a five-fold understanding of its mission: (i) arts education for students (and now their teachers); (ii) skills training, especially in weaving, design, ceramics, etc; (iii) providing spaces for creativity, productivity, collaboration and business incubation; (iv) events and exhibitions; and (v) marketing and sales.
Traditional Musical Instruments 2007 through 2009
Except for the lesiba and ´mamakhorong, two instruments still widely played by shepherds, most other traditional instruments have fallen into disuse. Seeking to inspire a new generation to take up these other instruments and integrate these into new performance contexts (like jazz, theatre and famo), an initiative was carried out with support from the Embassy of Austria and others to locate resource people in Lesotho who play these endangered instruments, record some of these, encourage collaboration with other artists, and train up students at four pilot schools in Maseru. These efforts were useful but a continuous program with better resources is required if greater success is to be achieved.
Restoration of Masitise Cave House Museum – 2003-2004
Through assistance provided by the US Ambassadors’ Fund for Cultural Preservation in 2003/4, the historic Cave House at Masitise in the south of Lesotho was restored, new exhibits were developed, and the feeder road and path were enhanced. On-going engagement with the parish and community at Masitise led to the formation of a more energetic and viable committee to oversee this heritage and tourism centre, and a Curator has since been employed to animate this process, with support from the Ministry of Tourism, Environment & Culture.
Outreach Programme Intermittently from 2001 through 2010
In order to help bring various lessons related to history, culture, science, and life skills to schools, a number of smaller interventions took place from 2001. Over the next few years, a variety of lessons based on museum artefacts and multi-media presentations were developed. Eventually, in 2009, a larger outreach programme targeting primary schools in the districts of Berea, Maseru and Mafeteng, was started with support from the Embassy of Finland in South Africa. During 2009 and 2010, over 100 schools were visited. Staff from Morija Museum trained additional staff so that they could deliver lessons based upon various artefacts, as well as multi-media presentations. A Steering Committee of Education Officials and Teachers from these districts was selected to take the programme to the next level: the capacitation of teachers to run the programme for themselves. Unfortunately, the programme was halted when funding dried up as a result of the global economic and financial crisis.
School Cultural Competency and Competitions Programme 2001 through 2013+
As an outgrowth of the Morija Arts & Cultural Festival, many schools became aware that students were becoming dis-connected from the nation’s cultural roots, and that not enough attention was being paid to nurturing the creative talents of our youth. As such, the museum initiated a programme whereby primary and high schools across Lesotho placed more emphasis on learning/ improving their understanding and skills in various cultural and creative forms. The first area that received attention were various forms of traditional dance. Over the following decade, with support from the Ministry of Education and a range of local businesses, the programme grew to include not just traditional dance, but also traditional instruments and games, as well as poetry and drama. Art was later added. At its height, over 800 primary and high schools wee participating at centre and district level, with the final competitions taking place at the annual Morija Arts & Cultural Festival in late September/early October.
Morija Arts & Cultural Festival 1999-2013
Originally conceived as an effort to bring unity to a divided nation following the 1998 political upheaval, revive tourism, and showcase Lesotho’s diverse creativity and talent, the Festival grew to become an annual event held in late September / early October. The organizational demands were so great that other avenues for promoting local culture, creativity and tourism followed, these being the National School Cultural Competitions, the Morija Arts Centre, The Hub, and the Seriti sa Makhoarane Heritage Tourism Initiative.
Although Morija Museum & Archives has attracted more than 240,000 paying visitors since it re-opened its doors in September 1989, 80% of whom are local teachers and students, it realizes only too well that a large majority of students and teachers in Lesotho are not exposed to any museum or heritage institution. As such, it has made efforts from time to time from 2000 to directly engage teachers and education authorities in order to clarify what interventions it can make to enhance the learning experience of students, especially those who cannot visit the museum, as well as to enhance its in-house education programmes.
Repatriation of Historical and Cultural Material 1999, 2001
Through funding from the French Government in 1999 and the US Ambassadors’ Fund for Cultural Preservation in 2001, trips were taken to Europe in order to locate, copy and/or return Lesotho materials housed in France and The Netherlands to Morija. Some of these materials have already been incorporated into Morija Museum exhibits or the archives, while others will be featured in exhibits once the Phase II Expansion Project is realized. With surplus funds left over from the second trip, a new storeroom for artefacts was constructed.