Learn more about the inspiration behind Walter Kitundu’s Leo na Kesho (today and tomorrow) in English, Swahili, Spanish, Chinese, and Filipino.
Leo na Kesho (today and tomorrow)
Iconic animals. Exquisite ecosystems. Lush landscapes. To much of the Western imagination, Africa is often considered as little more than a scenic backdrop for its wildlife—not home to a third of the world’s languages and a billion-plus residents. In Leo na Kesho (today and tomorrow), artist Walter Kitundu asserts the continent’s multidimensionality, diversity, and humanity.
Appearing as a storefront in the bustling city of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Kitundu’s installation evokes the feeling of a present-day business whose shopkeeper has momentarily stepped away: colorful household goods tempt passers-by, a Tanzanian radio station plays, signage and posters in Swahili ground us in time and place. Surrounded by African Hall’s dioramas of antelopes, zebras, and big cats, the piece exists in dynamic tension with its setting—which is precisely the point. By interrupting a familiar presentation of Africa’s biodiversity, Kitundu urges us to thoughtfully examine the presence of humanity as part of the continent's natural and social futures.
About the artist
Walter Kitundu is a Tanzanian-American multidisciplinary artist and educator. He creates sculpture, sound installations, and large-scale public artworks that address place, history, nature, and community. Kitundu also builds extraordinary musical instruments and mechanical devices when he isn’t obsessively documenting the natural world as a bird photographer. Kitundu is the director of Kitundu Studio, which focuses on the development and installation of public art works. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2008 and is also an Academy Osher Fellow.
Updating African Hall
Title walls help introduce and contextualize exhibitions for museum guests—and sometimes they’re due for a refresh. As part of the opening of Leo na Kesho (today and tomorrow), we’ve updated African Hall’s title wall with important information about Africa’s built environment, linguistic diversity, and the legacy of colonialism across the continent.
Reckoning with the past
In two thought-provoking videos, hear from the Academy’s collection managers on the history of our dioramas and scientific specimens, and explore the museum’s colonial origins with Head Librarian Rebekah Kim.
Leo na Kesho (today and tomorrow) is open daily. Find it in African Hall on the Main Floor.