Another in the series of materials excavated from the archives…
Here are some stamps I bought in Zinder, Niger, for the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford. Originally in their ‘Recycling’ exhibition, they have now found a permanent home in the Body Arts collection.
These stamps, used for printing a design on the skin, were made out of old rubber flip-flops. I remember very clearly negotiating with the stallholder. He was there to sell impressions from these stamps, not the stamps themselves. It was summer 1999 when I spent three and a half months in Niger, mainly in Zinder but culminating in a memorable trip through the Ténéré and Aïr with the then minister for tourism and about 30 representatives of (mainly French) tour agencies.
Since 1999, when I bought the stamp, I’ve been back to Zinder four times. I was obviously lucky to have chanced upon the stamp seller that first time: I never saw him again, although I looked for him (I remembered quite clearly his spot close to the market). Since 2005 I have been unable to go back to Zinder, largely because of travel restrictions. But you may recall last year’s project with Lycée Amadou Kourandaga which aimed to confront the often negative perceptions that UK pupils hold about Africa and Islam, and to create a teaching resource that can be used in classrooms across the UK to do the same. There we connected with Zinder by Skype.