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American Folklife Center Collections: Eastern Africa

This guide provides access to ethnographic resources documenting expressive culture in the nations of Eastern Africa at the Library of Congress.


Matson Photo Service, photographer. [Women Talking at Fort Hall (near Nyeri, Kenya).] 1936. Matson photograph collection. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This regional guide is part of a series of guides dedicated to documenting the diversity of expressive culture in Africa. Each guide represents one of five geographical regions, thereby reflecting the designations set forth by the African Union: Eastern Africa, Western Africa, Central Africa, Northern Africa, and Southern Africa. The American Folklife Center recognizes that differing regional designations exist (including those used by the United Nations and the African Development Bank Group) and offers this series of guides to enhance awareness of and facilitate access to its African collections.

American Folklife Center collections from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda document the diversity of expressive culture in Eastern Africa. This research guide focuses on activities, such as fieldwork, interpretation, and programming, which present the folklore and folklife of this region to the public. Among the Center's unique materials are the Tesfaye Lemma collection featuring recordings of Orchestra Ethiopia, the Blake Robinson recordings of Somali music and poetry, and the Caldwell P. Smith recordings of Ugandan Lango music.

Additional Collections of Interest

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to digital content are provided when available.

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Samite was born and raised in Uganda but left as a political refugee in 1982. He spent the following few years in Kenya where he studied African traditional musical instruments and rhythms. He mastered the kalimba (thumb-piano), marimba (wooden xylophone), litungu (seven-stringed Kenyan lyre) and various flutes, both traditional and western, and learned both traditional melodies and original compositions. In his concerts, Samite reflects on these experiences by performing songs and music from his and other African cultures.

Homegrown: Samite