World’s largest museum of black civilisations to ‘decolonise knowledge’ opens in Senegal

After 52 years, an idea proposed by Senegal’s first president Léopold Sédar Senghor has now become a reality as Senegal finally opened what has been described as the largest museum of black civilization in the capital, Dakar. It is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

In 1966, during the launch of the World Festival of Black Arts, Senegal’s first president and a poet, Leopold Sedar Senghor declared that his country would hold the temporary capital of Black Civilisation. Senghor presented a bold vision for a post-colonial Africa.

Léopold Sédar Senghor (www.presidence.sn)

Senegal’s president Macky Sall inaugurated the museum Thursday in Dakar. “In December 2011, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade laid the foundation stone in the capital Dakar but works were suspended during a political change until the subsequent leader, Macky Sall set the project rolling between December 2013 and December 2015.” CGTN reports

Its 14,000 square metres of floor space and capacity for 18,000 exhibits puts it in league with the National Museum of African American History in Washington. Its range of exhibits is, however, more far-reaching. Aljazeera reports. Its curator, Senegalese Babacar Mbow, claims it is “incomparable to anything in the world.”

The museum, which aims to “decolonise knowledge” hosts artifacts and exhibitions halls which includes Africa Now, showcasing contemporary African art and The Caravan and the Caravel, which tells the story of the trade in human beings – across the Atlantic and through the Sahara – that gave rise to new communities of Africans in the Americas.

Many of Africa’s priceless monuments, which symbolize African identity are scattered across the world, with greater number resting in British and French Museums. Recently, French President Emmanuel Macron announced that his country will return 26 artefacts taken from Benin in 1892.

The museum hosts works from continental Africa, and its diaspora.

It was built partly by a $34.6 million donation from China.