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.

Music

The 8 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Femi Kuti, RIMON, Joeboy, Makhalanjalo, Tayc and more.

Every week, we highlight the top releases through our best music of the week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Keep reading... Show less
News Brief
Photo: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

Watch Pa Salieu Make His US TV Debut With Performance on 'Fallon'

With the way the Gambian-British rap star is moving, 2021 is sure to be his year.

The excitement surrounding Gambian-British rapper Pa Salieu doesn't seem to be slowing down, as he has just further introduced himself to U.S. audiences. The buzzing artist made his U.S. debut on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon , performing hit "Frontline".

Three weeks in to the new year and UK based Salieu has topped NME's 100 Essential emerging artists for 2021 list, won BBC's Sound of 2021, and the list of accomplishments keep rolling in.

In his visually bewitching performance of "Frontline," a standout track off 2020's Send Them to Coventry, Salieu not only showed off his talents but his personality in the upbeat performance. At one point the rapper sang to viewers through a car, was joined on stage by some friends and their dogs, before ending his show front and center and glowing. The energy and vision that so obviously went into the performance is noted and appreciated. Who doesn't love to see people doing something they love?

Keep reading... Show less
Photo: Courtesy of The Outside Organisation

Ayra Starr Shines Bright on Debut Single 'Away'

Mavin Records' new teenage signee comes through with her debut EP.

West African native and the newest Mavin Records signee Ayra Starr is fresh out of the gate and already getting tongues wagging. The 19-year-old has released her self-titled debut EP, starting with head bopper "Away."

Born in Benin and raised between Cotonou and Lagos, Nigeria, Starr's sound allows her versatility and distinctive styles to take center stage. Her new five-track EP exhibits strong examples of soulfulness and a diverse musical range that usually takes some years to master.

But, what can't African women do?

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

MTV Africa Music Awards Announces Top 20 'Listeners' Choice' Finalists

Focalistic, Tiwa Savage, DBN Gogo and more score a spot on the nominees list for the 'Listener's Choice' award at the 2021 MAMAs.