RftD and UNESCO Building Capacity through Regional Training in East Africa

The first week of the UNESCO Regional Training in Mapping and Documenting Marine Cultural Heritage in Mombasa focussed on survey techniques, with an intense diving training schedule in both the pool and open water. Participants enjoyed a welcoming event on the 25th of May, by Mr. Ceasar Bita, National Museums Kenya; the Director of National Museums in the Coastal Region, Mr Athman Hussein; Ms Judith Ogana from the UNESCO Regional Office for Eastern Africa; and Dr. Arturo Rey da Silva from the University of Edinburgh, ICOMOS-ICUCH. Following a formal opening of the training, participants received an introduction to the course, and discussed the discipline, conceptualisation, and elaboration of Maritime Archaeology as a discipline, and Marine Cultural Heritage (MCH) as a resource. As part of this introduction, the case study of the Rising from the Depths Network was used to exemplify the regional extent of MCH in East Africa, and to draw attention to the potential sustainable utilisation of MCH now and into the future. The primary impacts, challenges, and contributions of MCH to Sustainable Development were discussed and presented by participants from Angola, Benin, Comoros, Djibuti, Eritrea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Sudan, and Tanzania.

UNESCO Regional Training Opening Session

Trainers and Participants at the UNESCO Regional Training opening session

Following the opening event, the first day of diving began with a reconnaissance dive on the remains of Sussex SV (1866 – 1909). The vessel was an iron-hulled three masted trade ship, converted to a barque 1883. Used primarily in the Calcutta jute trade, the vessel was transporting 1500 tonnes of coal from Cardiff to Mombasa, before running aground on course for the Old Port at Fort Jesus, Mombasa. The participant’s first dive on the wreck was met with challenging conditions with limited visibility and a strong swell, limiting diving time. Further inspections were postponed for the following day. Alongside diving, participants practiced archaeological survey techniques in the pool, conducting offsets, trilateration, and photogrammetry techniques. Throughout the following three dives on the site, the participants yielded successful results, drawing site maps and employing basic survey techniques, before conducting photogrammetry on a section of the vessel’s hull.

Participant practicing offsets and trilateration techniques in the pool

Diver practicing offsets and trilateration techniques in the swimming pool

Divers surveying on Sussex

Divers surveying on Sussex

The team after the final survey on Sussex

The following week of training will focus on producing an archaeological report on the wreck and an exhibition, showcased first at the Raising Awareness on Underwater Cultural Heritage in Africa event on the 4th of June at Fort Jesus, and then kept permanently at the Fort Jesus Museum.



This University of Surrey based project innovates and consolidates the festival of the sea approach to reharbouring living marine cultural heritage in East Africa through modern craftwork. Children from Anidan Children’s Shelter work with artists using cyanotype printing to engage with UN SDG themes, ‘pollution and plastics’, and issues of ‘food security’, ‘living heritage’ and ‘a good life’.

The project involves UK artist Bronagh Corr-McNicholl (Northern Ireland) working virtually alongside artists Corrie Wingate, Monia Antoniolo and Laura Mwani (Kenya) and Romeo Paul Niwass Lantoarison (Madagascar) to realise a living marine cultural heritage project. Materials are exhibited at The Flipflopi Project in Lamu. Funding is gratefully received from the AHRC/GCRF via The Rising from the Depths Network.

Project Images

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MUCH to Discover launch canoes in Mida

Caesar Bita – MUCH to Discover in Mida Creek

Deployment of a new boat in the sea is a community affair. All fisherman, fish traders and community are the lot who lead the way. The ceremony entails fisherman conducting prayers, locally known as Sadaka ya baharini,  on the shore. All fish caught that day is prepared and eaten at the seashore.

Food, mainly rice and fish, is prepared, using sea water, and all eaten at the beach. None of it is taken home. An elder leads prayers on the canoes after which it is pushed into the sea and a maiden trip is done. The elder then offers prayers and pours some the food in the sea. After this the community is served the food. Serving of the food is done one on leaves, mostly of banana.

The new canoes will now take tourists to the many creeks and islands in mida. The islands and areas of interest in mida and for canoe tour include kirepwe, Sudi and green islands, magangani, chafisi, dabaso and sita.

The trips will cost kshs 200/- per person. The youth who were trained in canoe building are the ones who will be sailing the canoes taking tourists. Bidii na Kazi women will manage the fish sales from the basket traps as well as collections from the canoes.