Africa: Return what was stolen from us! New Museum in Senegal drawing crowds

Source:  TeleSUR
December 26 2018

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

president macky sall cuts ribbon at inauguration of museum

The Museum of Black Civilization is drawing crowds to Dakar, Senegal as hundreds of artifacts return home for a long awaited exhibition.

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

museum of black civilization 4.jpg

“It’s so overwhelming, I don’t really understand it. Some of it’s familiar, some of it’s not, but it definitely grabs you by the gut,” museum visitor, Soucoumb Diallo, told Al Jazeera.

Keeping our culture

A 148,000 square-foot space of African pride filled with intricately carved masks, pottery, glasswork, carvings surrounded by colorful paintings from regional and Caribbean artists recall the continent’s place as the “cradle of humanity.”

kachireme.jpg“Kachireme” by Cuban artist Leandro Soto finds parallels between Nigerian
ancestral spirits and Native American beliefs

“Keeping our cultures is what has saved African people from attempts made at making of them soulless people without a history. And if culture does link people together, it also stimulates progress,” said President Macky Sall who attended the Museum’s opening ceremony

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Although Senegal’s first post-independence president, Leopold Sedar Senghor, (above) first conceived of a museum honoring black civilization almost half a century ago, its long-delayed completion thanks to an investment of US$34m (£27m) from China comes at a critical moment for African art.

Europe must return artifacts stolen in the colonial era

African governments are stepping up pressure on Western museums to return stolen artefacts following a French government report that urged mass restitutions of objects in France’s national museums that were seized during the colonial era.

Hundreds of thousands of artefacts – believed to represent some 90 percent of Africa’s cultural heritage – now populate exhibitions in European museums and private collections.

Besides Senegal, Nigeria and Benin are also opening new museums meant to serve in part as rejoinders to arguments by European museum directors that Africa lacks the facilities to care for the works.

“The Museum of Black Civilizations is part of a generation of museums that Africa is in the process of building … so that the continent and its diaspora … don’t cease defining their history,” said Ernesto Ramirez, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, at the ceremony in Dakar.

museum of black civilization 5

Senegal opens the world’s largest museum of black civilisations with China’s help

Source:  Face2faceafrica.com
December 03 2018

museum of black civilisation senegal.gifMuseum of Black Civilizations in Senegal — afrique.le360.ma

After 52 years of waiting, Senegal is set to open what has been described as the largest museum of black civilization ever on December 6 in the capital, Dakar.

Spread over an area of 14,000 square meters with a capacity of 18,000 pieces of art, the Museum of Black Civilizations, which will be used for the conservation of cultural values of the black people and for the presentation of Africa to the world, was built thanks to a donation from China amounting to $34.6 million, according to officials.

Senegal’s late president Leopold Sedar Senghor was the first to propose the idea of a museum about the civilisations of black Africa during a world festival of black artists in Dakar in 1966.

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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.

“This building, just like all others within the Cultural Park will not be considered as a Senegalese monument, but an African monument,” Wade said when the first stone was laid.

Finally, the doors of the museum will be opened with an exhibition on the theme “African civilizations: continuous creation of humanity”.

“On two levels, visitors will travel from the Neolithic to the multiplicity of African cultures, through the Iron Age, to understand the contributions of Africa to the scientific and technical heritage. The director of the museum boasts a modern scenography, with the latest technologies, to dialogue paintings, sculptures, masks and some masterpieces, as a piece of one of the major figures of the plastic arts of Mali, Abdoulaye Konaté, and a monumental baobab of 112 meters high made by a Haitian representative of the diaspora,” a report by News Africa said.

museum of black civilisation senegal 2.jpgMuseum of Black Civilizations — Twitter

Essentially, the museum features vestiges of the first hominids who appeared in Africa several million years ago to the latest contemporary art in collections of paintings and sculpture.

“This museum will not look like any other, because it will not be a museum of sub-Saharan Africa,” said Hamady Bocoum, the director of the museum, adding that the pan-African project “will be proof that the African man is well in history.”

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.

According to Abdou Latif Coulibaly, the country was ready to work with France to find an amicable solution, adding that “If you have 10,000 pieces (of art identified from Senegal), we want to have the 10,000.”

Apart from suffering from the negative consequences of colonialism, Africans have had to negotiate for the return of valuable historical cultural artefacts 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 artefacts 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.