Arts + Culture

Senegal Opens Museum of Black Civilizations—One of the Largest of Its Kind In the World

The museum, dedicated to "decolonizing African knowledge," has been 52 years in the making.

What began as an idea proposed by Senegal's first president Léopold Sédar Senghor over 50 years ago, has now become a reality as Senegal has officially opened the Museum of Black Civilizations, one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Senegal's current president Macky Sall inaugurated the museum earlier today in Dakar. The design of the building, which contains 14,000 square meters of floor space and a capacity for 18,000 exhibits, was inspired by circular traditional homes native to Southern Senegal, BBC Africa reports. Its size is comparable to the National Museum of African American History in Washington, according to Al Jazeera.


The museum has been several years in the making, with leaders after Senghor putting investment into the arts on the back burner in the face of economic and political challenges. In 2011, President Abdoulaye Wade laid the foundation for the museum, but construction was halted due to a political transition, adds CGTN Africa News. The project was put into motion by Sall beginning in 2013, and has finally come to fruition through a $34 million investment from China—another indication of China's ubiquitous economic presence across Africa.

READ: Senegal Urges France to Return Looted Art

The museum, is dedicated to "decolonizing African knowledge" and hosts artifacts and exhibitions representative of both continental Africa, and its diaspora. The museum's first exhibitions showcase works from artists from Mali and Burkina Faso as well as from Cuba and Haiti. The diaspora in Brazil and the United States are also represented in the museum's collection.

As Al Jazeera reports, some of the works currently showing at the museum include "Memory in Motion" by Haitian artist Philippe Dodard, which depicts "the stages of enslavement from Africa to the slave ship to the Caribbean plantation with floating eyes," to quote the publication directly. As well as "Women of the Nation" which pays homage to impactful women of African decent.

In November, Senegal urged France to return 100 pieces of looted art, following the release of a report commissioned by France's President Emmanuel Macron, entitled The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage: Toward a New Relational Ethics. Macron had recently ordered 26 Benin artifacts to be returned to their country of origin.

News Brief

Stormzy, YBN Cordae, Ari Lennox and Col3trane Added to Rocking The Daisies 2020 Lineup

Stormzy, YBN Cordae, Ari Lennox and Col3trane will be performing in South Africa during this year's edition of Rocking The Daisies.

Rocking The Daisies is celebrating its 15th year of existence this year. The popular music and lifestyle festival recently announced they have added four new names on the bills—UK's Stormzy and Col3trane alongside US rapper YBN Cordae and the singer Ari Lennox.

Keep reading...
Photos
Photo: Sachyn Mital for The Town Hall.

This Is What Fatoumata Diawara's NYC Concert Looked Like

In photos: the Malian singer performed a stunning show at The Town Hall.

Fatoumata Diawara played a mesmerizing show in New York City over the weekend.

The Malian singer, songwriter, guitarist and actor had The Town Hall swaying to a selection of songs from her latest Grammy-nominated album, Fenfo, as well as other classic cuts.

Fatoumata was joined on the night by a four-piece backing band that followed her every word and guitar riff, as she showcased her special blend of traditional Malian music and striking Bambara vocal melodies with elements of modern rock, funk, R&B and afrobeat.

"I didn't want to sing in English or French because I wanted to respect my African heritage," Fatoumata has mentioned."But I wanted a modern sound because that's the world I live in. I'm a traditionalist, but I need to experiment, too. You can keep your roots and influences but communicate them in a different style."

Fatoumata's main message, one which she stated throughout the show, is one of hope for the future of Africa and of female empowerment. It's "about the world, peace, how Africa can be a better place, especially for women, because I am one, and I am a survivor," she says. "I want to encourage those who have lost hope."

Browse through pictures from her show at The Town Hall, which was opened by Guatemala's Gabby Moreno, below.

Keep reading...
Photo by Issue Sanogo/AFP via Getty Images

Togolese President Wins Re-election to Secure Fourth Term in Office

President Faure Gnassingbé prepares for a fourth term in office following an election wrought with fraud allegations.

Togo's electoral commission has just released the preliminary results of the first round of the presidential election.

President Faure Gnassingbé reportedly secured 72 percent of the vote while his main opposition and former Prime Minister Agbeyome Kodjo who straddled behind with just 18 percent of the vote, according to Aljazeera.

Keep reading...

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.