The Anthropology section of the University Museum is the privileged
holder of an irreplaceable African collection.
The continuous exhibition is a striking display of objects from various regions of Africa. It offers a visual
perspective of both unity and diversity in human society and culture.
Anthropology is, simply put, the science of studying modern and ancient forms of humanity, its cultures and
The standing exhibition reflects Southern African peoples including the Nguni, Sotho, Venda, Shona, Kavango
and Bushmen/San people. There are also displays that represent West African cultures. The exhibition of Tiv
(Nigeria) artefacts is of particular importance.
The exhibits display the diversity of different systems as affected by ecological, social and cultural contexts.
The visitor will be able to see the many ways that humanity adapted to environmental demand, how they subsisted
economically and how relationships and social status were determined by kinship, age and gender. Of interest is
what is regarded as aesthetically pleasing by different cultures and how symbolic representations were used in daily
life. Also portrayed are different constructions of the life cycle and transition rites such as initiation
and diverse value systems.
The focus is also on the way objects were manufactured and what materials and styles were used. Humans found diverse
ways of combining functional, social, symbolic and aesthetic elements in creating objects.
The varied range of exhibitions provides insight into the close interplay of ecology, social structure and cosmology
in African societies. It also shows that although culture specific structures, forms, functions and meanings may
differ, the need to form relationships is universal. There are also universal ways of expressing ideas and engaging
in certain activities including forming institutions.