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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    A rectangular machine-printed white cotton cloth, kanga, with a continuous patterned border of yellow, black and red floral motifs, enclosing a central red rectangle with repeating diagonal designs in red, yellow and white. Just above the centre of the lower border is an inscription in Kiswahili written in the Roman script: SINA SIRI NINA JIBU - " I have no secrets but I have an answer".


  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 2003
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Width: 111 centimetres
    • Length: 169 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Script

      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Translation

        I have no secrets but I have an answer
      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Content

  • Curator's comments

    kangas are printed and purchased in pairs, then cut into single cloths before wear. The name of the politician (Nasir Najib?) who used this kanga in his campaign is concealed within the inscription: SINA SIRI NINA JIBU.

  • Condition


  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    22 August 2005

    Reason for treatment


    Treatment proposal

    Remove creases. Roll


    The textile is in a good condition overall. It is fairly flat although it has some hard creases and some creases made by the textile previously having been folded. There is a small tear in the bottom right corner and an adhesive label attached to the middle towards the top edge.

    Treatment details

    The textile was humidified to remove the creases. Sheets of thick blotting paper were sprayed with distilled water. Goretex (polytetrafluoro ethylene,polyester laminate) was placed on top and the textile laid on top of this, which was then covered with thin polythene. The creases were gradually reduced by placing glass weights on the textile as the moisture was introduced through the Goretex. The textile was checked at intervals and the blotting paper was resprayed three times over a five hour period, each using a little more water so that the creases were released gradually.

    A small tear in one corner, which was vulnerable to further damage, was supported using a colourmatched patch of dyed black silk crepeline on the reverse. Silk crepeline was used instead of black cotton fabric as it is semi transparent and therefore cannot be seen through the finely woven textile. The patch was stitched to the textile using dyed monofilament black silk thread with lines of couching and a reverse herringbone stitch to attach the edges of the patch.

    The textile was rerolled.

    About these records 

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number



If you’ve noticed a mistake or have any further information about this object, please email: collectiondatabase@britishmuseum.org 

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Object reference number: EAF64798

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