Senegal Unveils Museum of Black Civilisations With The Objective To Decolonize Knowledge

The Museum of Black Civilisations in Dakar, Senegal

On Thursday, 6th December 2018, Senegal unveiled a museum of Black Civilisation which aims to decolonize knowledge and to be able to turn Senegal into an intellectual and cultural capital of the Black world.

The awaited museum was inaugurated by Senegal's President Macky Sall in the capital, Dakar, is made up of 14,000 square metres of floor space and capacity for 18,000, putting it in the caliber of the National Museum of African American History,

The Genesis: 52 years ago, Senegal's first president who was also a poet, Leopold Sedar Senghor shared a post-colonial vision where art and culture took centre stage in Africa's development. That vision was in form of a museum in Senegal that would present the past and present experiences of Black people all over.

Senghor expressed his vision at the National Assembly in Dakar, where he declared his country the temporary capital of Black Civilisation during the launch of the World Festival of Black Arts.
There after, various leading personalities such as Nelson Mandela, Wole Soyinka gathered into the western African country, followed by several Black movements from the diaspora comprising of African Liberation, the Harlem Renaissance and Negritude Movement among others. However, reality kicked in due to economic and political factors, hence Senegal was unable to sustain Senghor's vision for arts and culture.

And now fast forward to 2018, 52 years later, that vision has fully materialized. The museum will also be home to returned artefacts from former colonizers.

The construction of the project was made possible by Chinese investment. This is undoubtedly a great project but I genuinely wonder what the terms and conditions of this investment are. Hopefully, the T&C's don't create a similar situation like that of Zambia.

This project as a whole reminds me of one of the opinions I hold dearly and strongly about the integral role of the social and cultural fiber as a tool for development and progression for us as African people. Arts and culture is a vital fabric for decolonizing our knowledge and systems as Africans. But I believe this must start in our homes, communities and schools. We need to emphasize the role of arts and culture by prioritizing the arts just like we do STEM subjects. It is imperative that we do so.

The arts are so powerful; they allow people to re-imagine themselves while promoting representation in told stories; better yet when they're told authentically by the right people. Africa, we cannot afford to sleep on the powerful medium that is arts and culture!

Photo Credit: Museum of Black Civilisations & AFP

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