Close-up of an ostrich eggshell bead from Kenya. Photo by James K. Munene.

Congratulations to UMMAA doctoral candidate James K. Munene, who has been awarded funding for his research on the manufacture of ostrich eggshell beads among the El Molo community in Kenya. The project will document the production, use, and cultural significance of these beads in the El Molo community, where they have been used for centuries, if not longer. Researchers will conduct interviews, take photographs, and create video and audio recordings, in the hope of preserving the material knowledge of the craft and hopefully reinvigorating the role of ostrich eggshell beadwork in the community.

The project will be supported by the Endangered Material Knowledge Programme (EMKP), a major grant-giving program of the British Museum that funds research that documents critically threatened material practices around the globe.

James will collaborate with Mr. Abdikadir Kurewa, the chief cultural officer of the Intangible Heritage Division of the State Department of Culture and Heritage in Kenya, and Mr. Michael Basili, a village elder in the El Molo community, chairman of the Gurapau Community Based Organization (which has helped revive the endangered language of the El Molo), and former schoolmaster and education officer of the Loiyangalani Division.