The livingstone Museum and its contribution to Zambia History : 1934-2006
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This study is an attempt to examine and illustrate the role the Livingstone Museum played in the reconstruction of Zambian history. It examines the development of the Museum from 1934 to 2006 and highlights and analyses research activities, publications and exhibitions it carried out in relation to cultural and historical heritage collected in the context of its contribution to Zambian history. In this study, I argue and demonstrate that the establishment of the Livingstone Museum, which at inception, in 1934, was called the David Livingstone Memorial Museum, resulted in a huge collection, documentation and preservation of cultural and natural heritage objects and specimens that were threatened to extinction and yet significant to the history of Zambia. It also led to the undertaking of numerous researches, publications and exhibitions by Museum researchers that provided information on the cultural and historical heritage of different ethnic groups in the country, essential in the promotion of national unity and development through ethnic diversity. Theoretically, this study underscores the role of a museum as a public institution, which provoked desire for effective learning from the past, in so doing, increasing the public's capacity for cognitive learning. It also examines the museum as a contested space in which all images were built and opinions formed thereby creating a forum for debate, discovery and an environment for questions. Furthermore, it examines the museum as a legitimising institution with considerable power where, on one hand, images it created reinforced social identity and consolidated social positions and class interest, while on the other hand, it provided a vehicle for opening new ideas and as an avenue for an agenda for change. The study reveals the role the Livingstone Museum played in the provision of resource material or information to academic history. The study demonstrates that during the colonial period, the Museum was seen as an important ally by colonial authorities in propagating its agenda of the projection of European way of life as superior to that of Africans thereby justifying colonialism. Similarly, following Independence, African nationalist leaders used the Museum to disseminate information that promoted their agenda aimed at redressing the negative image African culture and history received during the colonial era. It also demonstrates that post colonial leaders used the Museum as a medium through which they propagated their aspiration of achieving national unity, identity and development through cultural and historical diversity of its people. This study has also highlighted the nature and role of public history to academic history. It has revealed that the Livingstone Museum through its collections, researches and publications has provided resource material or information, which academics have used in their publications thereby contributing to different strands of the historiography of the history of Zambia that emerged from time to time.