Senegal’s Museum of Black Civilisations: Reclaiming Africa’s Lost Past, Shaping Identity and Celebrating Black Civilizations’ Contribution across the world

Senegal's Museum of Black Civilisations

Europe, France, and the rest of the world has for decades misconstrued and told the heritage of Africans through their eyes, looted African art stolen during the colonial era, unapologetically displayed in museums far away from home without consent, well, blacks are rightfully demanding what’s theirs and now, thankfully, the narrative is changing.

On December 6, 2018, late Senegalese first President, poet Léopold Sédar Senghor’s long-time vision came to life in Senegal’s capital of Dakar, birthing the grand Museum of Black Civilisations, known as Musée des Civilisations noires (MCN) in France, powered many thanks to China’s $34.6 million donation.

Described as the largest museum of black civilization ever, the massive roughly 150,000 square feet complex which was in the works for more than 50 years, racking a jaw-dropping $34million, one of Africa’s largest art collections, its architecture inspired by traditional Senegalese homes hosting four floors, a huge baobab sculpture by Haitian sculptor Edouard Duval-Carrié right in its middle and boasts of space for 18,000 exhibits, it aims to celebrate the significant contributions of Africa to various fields across the world.

The Museum of Black Civilisations, projecting Africa’s rich art, culture, and history no doubt, takes its place topping bucket lists of historical places to visit in the African continent.

According to the museum’s director, seasoned archeologist, researcher, erstwhile head of the Institut Fondamental d’Afrique Noire, Dakar, Hamady Bocoum, it will serve creative laboratory to help shape a continent’s sense of identity. Other board members expressing hopes that Senegal will be turned into an intellectual and cultural capital of the black world.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that his country will return 26 African artworks including, revered statues — to Benin, keeping up with the country’s promise to give back artwork taken from Africa during the colonial era, including artworks from the 19th century Dahomey Kingdom – Abomey Treasures, currently are held in the Quai Branly Museum in Paris.

The museum’s construction began in 2011 but officially kicked off between 2013 -2015. It houses pieces from across Africa and the Caribbean.

On Monday, December 6, 2021, the museum celebrated its third anniversary of its opening to the public.

 

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