World’s Biggest Museum of African Civilisation Opened in Dakar, Senegal
Senegal has inaugurated a museum of black civilisations has been inaugurated by President in the capital, Dakar, after 52 years of waiting for what has been described as the largest museum of black civilization.
With close to 14,000 square metres of floor space and capacity for 18,000 exhibits, the new Museums of Black Civilisations is already capable of competing with the National Museum of African American History in Washington.
The exhibition halls include Africa Now, showcasing contemporary African art and The Caravan and the Caravel, which tells the story of the trade in human beings – across the Atlantic and through the Sahara – that gave rise to new communities of Africans in the Americas.
These diaspora communities – such as in Brazil, the United States and the Caribbean – are recognized as African civilizations in their own right.
Since the museum could contain works owned by France since colonization, Senegal’s culture minister has called for the restitution by France of all Senegalese artwork on the back of a French report urging the return of African art treasures.
Apart from suffering from the negative consequences of colonialism, Africans have had to negotiate for the return of valuable historical cultural artifacts that were smuggled out of their countries.
These priceless monuments, which symbolize African identity are currently scattered across the world, with an impressive number in British and French Museums.
Many African countries have called for the return of these treasures but are yet to receive any positive response from these western countries, which are making huge sums of money from these objects, with some even insisting that they were obtained legally.
French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that his country will return 26 artifacts taken from Benin in 1892. The thrones and statues, currently on display at the Quai Branly museum in Paris, were taken during a colonial war against the then Kingdom of Dahomey.
The idea of establishing the museum dates back more than 50 years, to Senegal’s late poet-president, Léopold Sédar Senghor.
Senghor was the first to propose the idea of a museum about the civilizations of black Africa during a world festival of black artists in Dakar in 1966.
Along with Martinican writer Aimé Césaire, Senghor was a creative force behind the philosophy of Négritude, which opposed the imposition of French culture on colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.
The museum will not be a commemorative monument, its director says, but rather a creative laboratory to help shape a continent’s sense of identity.Senegal’s late president Leopold Sedar
In December 2011, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade laid the foundation stone in the capital Dakar but works were suspended during a political change until the subsequent leader, Macky Sall set the project rolling between December 2013 and December 2015.