Deputy Chief of Mission Isiah Parnell officially opened the Shimoni Slavery Museum on February 12, marking it as a tourist attraction and a sustainable form of income generation for the village of Shimoni, located on the southern coast of Kenya. Previously a colonial district commissioner’s residence, the museum is now a constituent of the National Museums of Kenya. In 2006, the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation awarded the National Museums of Kenya over $30,000 to restore nearby slave caves, and in 2012 an additional $30,000 was given to renovate the residence. DCM Parnell toured the Shimoni slave caves, which are estimated by the museum to have been holding areas for over 1 million slaves before they were shipped to the slave market in Zanzibar, Tanzania between 1860 and 1895.
DCM Parnell spoke to members of the community stressing that the Shimoni Slavery Museum is a visible symbol of the partnership between the United States and Kenya and a stark reminder of a period in human history that linked countries, continents and peoples in a way that must not be forgotten. The opening of the museum aims to involve the local community in the management of its heritage and enable community members to earn income from a commonly shared heritage resource.