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.

Interview

A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

Keep reading... Show less
Interview

Adekunle Gold Is Living His Best Life

We speak to the Nigerian star about how marriage and fatherhood have led him to find both newfound happiness and newfound freedom as an artist.

''I'm having the time of my life,'' says Adekunle Gold over a Zoom call while seated in his office in Lagos. ''I'm making songs that are so true to my current energy, my current vibe.'' When I got on the call with the 34-year-old artist on a Wednesday afternoon, the first thing I noticed was his hair tied up in little braids, the second was his wide smile. As we speak, the crooner laughs multiple times but it's his aura that shines through the computer screen, it lets you know better than his words that he's truly having the time of life.

Born Adekunle Kosoko, the popular Nigerian singer got married barely two years ago to fellow artist Simi. Last year, the power couple welcomed their first child. As we talk, Gold points to his journey as a father and a husband as some of the biggest inspirations at the moment not just as far as music goes but as his perspective in life and how he now approaches things.

''My [artistry] has changed a lot because being a father and being a husband has made me grow a lot and more.'' Adekunle Gold tells OkayAfrica. ''It has made me understand life a lot more too. I'm feeling more responsible for people. You know, now I have a kid to raise and I have a wife to support, to be a real man and husband and father for.'' He credits this journey with both his newfound happiness and a newfound freedom as an artist.

Keep reading... Show less
Music
(Youtube)

The 5 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Fireboy DML, Juls, Adekunle Gold 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

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.

Michaela Coel Joins the 'Black Panther' Sequel Cast

The upcoming film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is shaping up.