Somjee's Way

The 10th International Conference of Museums for Peace

Title: Somjee's Way

Authors: Kimberly Baker, Munuve Mutisya, Francis Odongyoo, Lamudak Okech, Jesper Magnusson

Abstract: In 1994, Dr. Sultan Somjee, an ethnographer, founded the Community Peace Museums Heritage Foundation (CPMHF) in Kenya with the objective of bringing Indigenous Peoples together to recall their collective memories of 'peace heritage traditions' (Somjee, 1994, p. 1). Somjee based his theory on the African spiritual belief in Utu or Ubuntu, meaning humanity (Somjee, 2010). Somjee first presented his "approach to the creation of museums of peace founded on Indigenous heritage at the Third International Conference of Peace Museums in Kyoto and Osaka, Japan, in 1998" (Somjee, 2018, p.1). Over the next twenty-six years, his approach to peace museum practices became known as "Somjee's way" (Mutisya, 2017). Today, Somjee inspired the establishment of sixteen CPMHF museums, the Gulu Community Peace Museum in Northern Uganda, the Community Museums of Peace of the African Child Soldier in South Sudan and the Living Peace Museum in Canada. During this discussion, panellists share their experiences of applying Somjee's theoretical understandings, Indigenous methodologies, relational aesthetics applications and environmental approaches to preserving mother earth's sacred peace sites. Ultimately, the conversation about 'Somjee's way' presents an opportunity to contextualize and compare the peace museums movement in the Global South and North and position his work internationally.