Ugandan Cupping Horn

This is an Ugandan cupping vessel, made from horn. The practitioner would suck the air out of the instrument with their mouth, drawing out the venom, infection, or whatever else was trapped under the surface of the skin.

Karamojong Tobacco Pipe

The Karamojong are a Nilotic people of north east Uganda. Like other Nilotic people, such as the more well known Maasai, their lives revolve around their cattle. The Karamojong also use tobacco as snuff

Head-carrying Ring

This head-carrying ring is used in regions of Africa to carry objects on someone's head - water pots, baskets and other, sometimes very heavy, items. This  is often the most efficient way of transporting goods when there may not be access to transport.  To prevent spilling or items falling off, the carrier (most often a woman) needs an upright posture and strength. Head rings can help by providing a stable basis for round bottomed pots or baskets.

Pemba Island Stool

This triangular stool is the traditional style of stool made in Pemba, using goat skins. The wood is painted
ochre(red) black and white in Swahili style. The Swahili people live along the coast of Kenya and Tanzania.

Agaseke baskets

We have an agaseke basket in our collection.

Agaseke is a type of traditional Rwandese woven basket. It has a flat, round base, and a conical fitted lid. It is made of native natural fibres with patterns in purple, green, black, yellow, and red. There are many different patterns that can be displayed on the sides of the agaseke.

These baskets are used for holding gifts and food when visiting friends or attending a wedding. Because of this, they have become a symbol of peace and goodwill amongst friends and families. They are lidded, and incredibly tightly woven, which protects against pests and weather.They take a long time to make, and are made by women. Being able to make them shows great dedication to friends and family, and attention to detail. They are often given to brides to wish them good luck.

They have become symbols of feminine power, and are therefore often used in women's traditional dances . The dancers proudly show their baskets to the audience.

Ethiopian Lion of Judah Rug

This Ethiopian rug depicts the lion of Judah, which represents the emperor Haile Selassie I (1892-1975) whose empire lasted from 1930 to 1974. The lion is also a symbol of strength, kingship, pride and African sovereignty.

Zanzibar Door Frame

"All over sub-Saharan Africa, those expert in the fashioning of wood, have put that high skill level to the embellishment of doors. If we start over in west Africa, there are the Baule people of the Ivory Coast. More known for their figurative sculptures, which influenced artists such as Amedeo Modigliani, they produced doors bearing mask motifs and divination aids.

Going further east, we encounter the Edo of Benin City in Nigeria. As well as mastering brass casting and ivory carving, they produced doors featuring the royal symbolism of leopards and mudfish. Continuing east, crossing over from Nigeria to Cameroon, entering the Grasslands region, we meet the Bamum. Like the Edo, they carved zoomorphic as well as human figures on their doors. Stepping out of Cameroon and nation hopping to the coast, we come to the beautification by the Swahili. Zanzibar and Lamu, were two of the East African city states, trading across the Indian Ocean, renowned for their door sculpting. Remembering that Swahili comes from the Arabic word ''sahil,'' meaning coast, so like the food and the language, the door embellishment was influenced by the people the Bantu encountered on the Indian Ocean littoral, such as the Omani Arabs and the Gujerati Indians. Popular motifs included the lotus flower, the rosette and the palm and frankincense trees.

These doors were for the wealthier residents, teak often being imported for their use. The poorer citizen would use the wood of the mango tree. A great example of Swahili door sculpture is the House of Wonders, Zanzibar. The two lions above the door, resemble an image from a coat of arms and the door is framed by a geometric design of diamonds. When I think of words like ornamentation and ornate, I think of the adornments to be found, on the doors and chairs of Zanzibar and Lamu."

Text by Natty Mark Samuels

Nankasa Drum

The Baganda people of Uganda have a special relationship with ngoma (a word for both the drums, and the music they produce with the drums). The ngoma is used for communication, celebration, storytelling, and is associated with royalty.

The drums are made of wood and covered with cow skin, which is pegged on both ends. They are usually played in an ensemble of seven drums. Each of these drums has a specific name. The largest drum is the bakisimba. It makes a loud bass sound. The empuunya is a bit smaller and makes a higher-pitched bass sound.

The drum in the Rumble Museum's collection is a nankasa. It is a small drum played with sticks and makes a very high-pitched sound. Like the larger drums, it is covered with cow skin on the top and bottom using an intricate lacing system. The final drum in the ensemble is the engalabi, which has a lizard-skin head attached with small wooden pegs.

Throughout Central and South Africa, ngoma ceremonies are used to help with healing during ceremonies. The rituals involve rhythmic music and dance. Ngoma often has the role of bonding the tribe, and is involved in key ceremonies such as marriage and life transitions. It is also seen as a way to communicate with spirits. The nankasa is usually played with two sticks.

Watch Natty Mark Samuels, founder of the African School, introduce our nankasa drum here.

Ethiopian Flywhisk

In much of Africa, flywhisks are carried as prestige decoration items. They are used to emphasize gestures and speech.

They are often made of items that suggest status. Our flywhisk from Ethiopia is made of dyed horsehair. The horse is connected to military success. The lettering on the whisk is in Ethiopian flag colours (also used by rastifarians ) and is likely to be Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia).

The ceremonial flywhisk has been part of the regalia of the Christian Ethiopian church for many centuries. They were often used by a member of the clergy or the royalty.

Amongst the Kongo of Angola and the Shona of Zimbabwe, as with other peoples of sub-Saharan Africa, it is also an essential item in the healing process.