Caiana Revista académica de investigación en Arte y cultura visual

Caiana Nro12

Donna Pido

The Wages of Epistemicide: Fusion, transformation and assertion in kenyan Heraldic Representation

This paper is about the interaction of esthetic systems seen through the integration of heraldic traditions and the rich, but not always pleasant, history that accompanies that process.

Beginning in the late 19th century the territory we now know as the Republic of Kenya was overrun and colonized by Europeans with a fanatical devotion to a longstanding codified tradition of heraldic representation. While local traditions were ignored, the European tradition was transferred, by administrative force, to the colonized peoples and brought forward into the post-independence period in the coats of arms, seals, badges and flags of the new nation-states, the universities, schools and corporations.

Research has shown pre-existing and continuous heraldic traditions throughout East Africa that are still vibrant but little recognized. Indigenous heraldic representations have also been verified in parietal art and possibly in the rupestral art in the region.

As a nation obsessed with the heraldry of European football clubs, Kenya has embarked on the development of heraldic representations for its 47 new counties. This has revealed a complex set of problems in design, artwork and attention to cultural detail. The new coats of arms also show us how completely digital manipulation has entered into Kenyan design.


Key Words: Heraldry, Graphic Design, Colonialism, Epistemicide

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