Asian African Heritage Trust

2000-2005 Exhibition

In 2000 the Asian African Heritage Trust created a temporary museum exhibition titled Asian African Heritage: Identity and History. This was hosted by the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) at their Nairobi museum complex.

The landmark exhibit covered the migration history of the Asian community to East Africa, which has existed with Indian Ocean trade routes into pre-history, but grew enormously after the 1880s. The exhibit then explored the community’s labour heritage, social heritage and intellectual heritage in East Africa, and began a discussion on Asian African identity.

The exhibition was a huge success. This was partly because it was developed by the community itself, with the involvement of over 100 volunteers. Over 30 articles were written about it, including by the BBC and The Washington Post. Although only intended as a six month temporary exhibition, it ran for five years because of its popularity, until substantial renovations began at the Museum.


The concept paper for the exhibition was written by Dr. Sultan Somjee. In 1997, during the launch of the concept of the exhibition, Dr. Mohamed Isahakia, then Director-General, National Museums of Kenya, stated : "Almost 34 years after Independence our National Museum here has no part of its entire exhibitions focusing on any aspect of Asian history. This must be corrected."

The Trust is now creating an updated permanent exhibition, building on the strengths and content of the original, for installation at the National Museum.