The University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA) in England is set to return historic artefacts to the Uganda National Museum in Kampala. The items were collected and donated to MAA by the late British anthropologist and missionary Rev John Roscoe.
Roscoe (1861-1932) was a missionary from the Anglican Missionary Society to East Africa.
In 1884, he travelled to what became the British Protectorate of Uganda and lived there among several indigenous tribes until 1909. He spent 25 years in Africa and conducted anthropological data collection of the Africans he encountered on his mission.
Roscoe’s most widely held anthropological books are The Baganda: An Account of Their Native Customs and Beliefs (MacMillan and Co., Limited, 1911),” “The Northern Bantu: An Account of Some Central African Tribes of the Uganda Protectorate (1915),and Twenty-five Years in East Africa (1921), among others.
According to Derek R Peterson, a professor of History and African Studies at the University of Michigan, US, the Cambridge museum holds around 1,400 separate ethnographic objects from Uganda, many of them acquired by Roscoe, others were donated by Buganda Kingdom’s then Katikkiro (prime minister), Sir Apolo Kaggwa (1890-1926). Most of Roscoe’s collection has not been displayed in Cambridge.
Dr Peterson will serve as principal investigator for the pilot project dubbed, ‘Repositioning the Uganda Museum,’ working with a team of colleagues from both MAA and the Uganda National Museum to repatriate these objects from the Cambridge museum to Uganda.