An array of dances, drums and acrobatics will welcome the opening of the 14, 000 square metres of floor space with a capacity for 18,000 exhibits museum. The structure will contain high-ceilinged exhibition halls such as Africa Now, which will portray contemporary African art and The Caravan and the Caravel, which tells the story of the trans-Atlantic trade in human beings.
The launching of this great museum today fulfils the long thought vision of Leopold Sedar Senghor, who in April 1966 declared his country the temporary capital of Black Civilisation during the inauguration of the World Festival of Black Arts.
Senghor’s vision for a post-colonial Africa placed art and culture at the heart of development in the continent as he envisaged a museum that would present the past and present experiences of black people everywhere.
Later plagued by economic and political challenges, the country was unable to make required investment in the sector, which was placed at 25 percent of government spending during Senghor’s reign.
Today, the country has picked up the trails and is staging a remarkable comeback fulfilling the dreams of the former president.
Carole Boyce Davies, professor of Africana Studies and English at Cornell University in the US, envisions the museum to become a focal point for modern-day discussions surrounding decolonisation.
She noted that though its creation is in fulfillment of Senghor’s vision, a lot is still left to be done and the work of decolonizing knowledge must continue.
However, although the decolonization process had started way back in the 1960s, there is a lot to be done if Africa wants to fully recover its own self-image from European ideas and languages imposed on the continent.
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