The long-awaited Musée des Civilisations noires (Museum of Black Civilisations) has opened in Senegal, with an address from President Macky Sall.
The museum received more than USD$34 million in support from China.
There will be 14,000 square meters dedicated to the history of Africans, with an exhibit on the first hominids, and early African contributions to science and technology.
As reported in Africa Times, President Sall said: “Like the Grand National Theater that houses the ceremony, the museum bears the symbol of friendship and solidarity of the Chinese people towards the Senegalese people. A gift from China, itself the cradle of an old and rich civilization, the Museum of Black Civilizations reflects our shared commitment to respect for the equal dignity of cultures and civilizations, and to safeguarding the cultural diversity of the world.”
Also present at the ceremony were Chinese dignitaries, a UNESCO representative, museum director Hamady Bocoum, and leading artists and cultural icons.
Repatriation of African artefacts
Sall also referenced French President Macron’s recent calls to return African artefacts. Sall said: “We know the issues related to the subject, I hope that the act of President Macron opens the way for a calm and peaceful dialogue on the repatriation of African heritage.”
Macron’s was one of many calls for ‘stolen’ artefacts displayed at Western museums to be returned.
Speaking at the Hay literary festival, BBC Historian David Olusoga suggested that European and American museums should consider repatriating artefacts.
Olusoga suggests that there is not only a moral case for repatriating objects, but also one of self interest for the UK in a post-Brexit world. Voluntarily returning colonial artefacts would improve trading relationships with African and Asian countries.
The opening of the MCN goes some way towards countering the argument that there is a lack of appropriate infrastructure in Africa to take care of returned artefacts.
Image courtesy MCN