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Stone carvers want elephant sculpture returned to Kisii

27 September 2014, 17:58 Vincent Kebwaro

Kisii - Stone carvers from Kisii County, who carved a monument of the elephants that was to be a centre piece at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in New York America but failed to be airlifted to the exhibit, now want it ferried back to Kisii.

Speaking for the first time since the exhibition that was held in July this year, the carvers under the umbrella of Global Arts African Chapter said the monument, which was a family of elephants and whose theme was conservation of the animals, should now be returned to its origin in Kisii.

“Since that piece did not make its way to the exhibition, it should not be left at the national museum where it is right now. We need it back here so that whoever wants to see it can see it here in Kisii,” Ong’esa said.

They said that they were assigned to come up with the monument, which they handed over to the Kisii County government in a colourful ceremony that was held at the Gusii stadium.

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The County government was supposed to ferry the sculpture, which weighed about 25 tonnes to Nairobi and hand it to the Governor of Nairobi. Thereafter, it was to be airlifted to New York city where it was to be exhibited during a month long event.

Ong’esa, who is the President of organisation, said that when the team of eight people left Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for New York, they were assured that the sculpture would be airlifted and they were to receive it in another ceremony which was to be held in New York.

When the sculpture failed to be airlifted, Ong’esa said that many questions were raised but to date no clear answer has been given as to why it was not airlifted. 

They now want the national government through the ministry of culture, sports and arts to come out and tell Kenyans what happened to the sculpture.

Had the monument been airlifted to America, the artists argue, it could have fetched this country a good amount of money because there were some buyers who had already expressed interest in buying it.

“If that elephant had reached New York, the auction which had been planned there could have fetched over 5 million dollars,” he said.

He said that since the theme of the monument was conservation of the elephants, the monument could have attracted a good number of contributors towards this noble cause of conserving the elephants.

“Over 3 million people came to see the monument which had been given enough publicity but it was nowhere to be seen,” Ong’esa said.

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