Friday, 19 September 2008

Hungarian couple preserve African heritage in six-acre museum

Society & Culture
The Afrika Múzeum which was established in 1988 by Hungarian Game Hunter, Dr. Nagy Endre, seems to be the first of its kind in the East and Central Europe, according to an African who spent close to three months observing and analysing the rationale behind such idea by a Hungarian couple.

The museum, which was formerly known as Tanzania House and Safari Club for Hungarian Hunting lovers, is now being managed by Katalin Endre, the seventy-year-old widow, who took up the challenge after the death of her husband in 1994.

Before his death, Nagy had instructed his wife to bury part of his body in Africa, a wish the latter successfully carried out by burying part of the remains in Meru-Tanzania.

Dr.Nagy Endre took refuge in Africa during the Second World War where he was said to have found peace and love. And on returning to his native country, Hungary, he decided to establish something in memory of Africa, culminating the birth of this historical museum in Balatonederics - a typical rural area in Hungary which is about two hundred and fifty kilometres from the capital, Budapest.

The museum sits on a six-acre land, below the Beci Mountains with its fluke of nature running from Kesthely Mountains to the west and up to Lake Balaton which itself a tourist attraction for millions every summer.

According to Lady Katalin Endre, the museum was not fully opened to the public until after Endre's death. Run every April to November, the museum has collections of rare African art works, authentic carvings, elephant tucks, furniture, trophies, embalmed animals, books, and maps dating back from 1790.

"I was stunned with the huge number of collections from the Masai tribe," confessed Archie Bonka, a Ghanaian who worked at the museum. He added that it was impossible to leave the museum without being stuck by the memory for days.

Although some Africans who visited the place were said to be uncomfortable because, according to them, these precious collections were looted; yet others gave a thumb up for Nagy and Katalin for preserving African heritage in a six-acre land in a little known village.

Dismissing those who insisted that the art works may have been stolen, Bonka reasoned that it's a worthwhile effort if such preservation could free the mind of certain people who think negatively about Africa. "If pieces of our heritage can be so preserved for others who think negatively about our race in order to free their mind of negative thinking, it definitely worth it."

With 1km mini jungle, a private zoo, mud thatched hut, three African gift shops, a Timbuktu Cafe House that serves varieties of the "best" African coffee from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia; it's replica of a typical African village. Even animals and birds like buffalo, goat, zebra, bush pig, cow, camel, donkey, antelope, donkey, fowl, duck including people's favourite - a thirty-nine-year old African owl, are being kept in this monumental Afrika Múzeum.

Meanwhile, it was gathered that more than two thousand people usually visit the museum during the peak days.

Photos and logistics supplied by Archie Bonka

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