NAIROBI, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Kenya plans to promote the works of east Africa's pioneer artists to preserve regional heritage, officials said on Sunday.
Purity Kiura, director of sites and monuments at the National Museums of Kenya, said the government will exhibit the works of the founders of the art movement in east Africa to the general public in the next two years.
"The work of pioneer artists especially in the areas of painting and carvings from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania have been forgotten," Kiura said. "The region risks losing a critical part of its cultural heritage."
"Kenya is keen to promote pioneer east Africa artists so that the youth can know where the art movement began," she told the opening of an exhibition, "Tinga Tinga and the legendary pioneer artists of Tanzania."
Edward Saidi Tinga Tinga was a pioneer Tanzanian painter who died in 1972 and whose memory lives on through the artistic renaissance he started, Kiura said.
Most of the pioneer artists from Tanzania and Uganda moved to Kenya as the country was a regional economic hub, she said.
"Unfortunately most of the founders of the east African art sector have since died and their work has moved away from the public limelight," Kiura said.
She noted that the arts and culture sector has traditionally being underfunded, both in public and private sectors.
Governments have always prioritized infrastructure, health and education while the arts industry has received the least amount of funding, she said.
She called for investment for the sector.
"If well leveraged, the arts and culture sector could form the basis of rapid economic growth and development," Kiura said.
Pindi Chana, Tanzanian High Commissioner to Kenya, said that her country is also keen on promoting east African heritage.
A lot of inspiration for Tanzanian art comes from a long history of art forms in Tanzania where there are many rock art paintings dating back millions of years, Chana said.
She noted that the Makonde people were at the forefront of African wood carving and that the Makonde carvers from Mozambique and Tanzania have migrated to Kenya where their works became well known.
The ambassador said the Makondes have concentrated on carving ebony, the black wood of Africa and some of their works were displayed in world museums in the early part of the last century.