About two weeks ago, government closed Mzuzu Museum on grounds that it (the State) has failed to settle rental bills to the landlord, Malawi Property Investment Company (Mpico). I find this to be retrogressive and shameful. The act is just another dry joke that the government is consistently doing, thereby making it goof on very important issues.
Government’s decision to close the museum is proving beyond reasonable doubts that it is going astray as far as national development is concerned. A museum in any country is very crucial as it provides the citizenry with history and plans for the future.
An article published by Unesco in 2012 titled ‘Role of museums in education and cultural tourism development’ articulates how important museums are in any country. According to the article, learners learn history and new things after visiting museums in their localities.
This is in line with what Wazamazama Katatu, president of Mzuzu University Representative Students Council expressed in the media that closing Mzuzu Museum is denying students, including his friends at Mzuni, a right to education.
The social mission of museums in the educational sphere can be defined as keeping and transferring to the following generations the cultural experience and humanitarian traditions of humankind, developing axiological, moral and philosophical principles regarding tolerance for natural, ethnical, cultural and religious diversity.
It goes further to developing the creative potential of personality through specific forms of educational work and use of museums as a unique carrier of historical and cultural memory of the humankind historical and cultural memory of the humankind coded in authentic objects of its heritage.
In addition to educational activity, museums have a significant role in cultural tourism. Art, history, and local folklore museums are traditionally attractive for both local and foreign tourists, whereas most natural history and technical museums are oriented towards the local visitors as well as students.
Gross (2014) in ‘The Importance of Taking Children to Museums’ indicates bringing children to museums opens their eyes to different ideas and perspectives that are relevant to their lives. This kind of exposure can help develop higher critical and creative thinking skills, which are integral to future success.
This is to say museums offer a dynamic opportunity to expose children to experiences and explore new things in a rich and educational environment. So we can rightly assume that children in Mzuzu and surrounding areas are being denied this opportunity.
Cities all over the world have museums dedicated to preserve the history through paintings, cultures and elements of our history. It is worrisome, then, to learn about the closure of Mzuzu Museum because of a government’s failure to pay rental fee.
Ironically the development comes at a time when countries across the globe including Malawi will commemorate World Tourism Day on September 27. The day, which dates back to September 27 1970 when statutes of United Nations World Tourism were adopted, was set to raise awareness on the role of tourism and how it impacts on social, cultural, political and economic values in the world.
Malawi went further to designate the month of September as Malawi tourism month to emphasise the importance of tourism. If we analyse ourselves then are we promoting or killing the tourism sector?
It is unfortunate that in the 21st century, instead of us developing in every sector, we are pulling ourselves down. We are contradicting ourselves because at a time we are promoting tourism which museums fall under, we are closing the facilities.
The development leaves a lot to be desired because for sure someone somewhere is sleeping on duty like a sleepy watchman.
We are making ourselves a laughing stock to whosoever is knowledgeable about the importance of a museum in the country. n