Senegal inaugurates a museum of black civilizations in Dakar – Le Monde

The Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, here on 27 November 2018, will be inaugurated on 6 December.
The Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, here on 27 November 2018, will be inaugurated on 6 December. SEYLLOU / AFP

Senegal opens on Thursday 6 December in Dakar a museum dedicated to "Black Civilizations" from the dawn of humanity, a project "Pan" reached half a century after its launch by the first president of the country, Léopold Sédar Senghor (1960-1980), as the idea of ​​restoring the cultural heritage of the continent. Like the Museum of Black Civilizations (MCN), the rehabilitation or construction of modern museums throughout Africa is undermining the lack of adequate infrastructure, often contrary to requests for restitution, that countries such as France says they want to facilitate.

Read also Senegal wants the return of "all" his works of art

Seven years after the start of work under President Abdoulaye Wade (2000-2012), the tape will be cut around 10 am (GMT and local) by its successor Macky Sall. Monumental architecture inspired by the round huts of Casamance, a region of southern Senegal, the MCN overlooks the Grand Theater, the gateway to the administrative and business district of Dakar. With an area of ​​14,000 m2will be able to accommodate 18,000 pieces, ranging from the remains of the first hominids, appeared in Africa several million years ago, to current artistic creations, according to its director, Hamady Bocoum.

"A Pan-African project"

Its construction and development have been financed by China for over 30 million euros. Without accurately revealing the objects to be exhibited at the opening, Mr. Bocoum mentioned the presence of skulls, stone tools, paintings, sculptures and other masks. "It's a Pan-African project: there will be an aspect of every part of Africa"he said, ensuring that the museum will be able to host works from other countries less gifted than the continent.

The opening of the CMN is a "Significant contribution to the fabric of museums in Western Africa"Alain Godonou, Beninese, responsible for the heritage for the new tourism promotion agency of his country, declared to the AFP. The inauguration comes as a report presented on November 23rd to French President Emmanuel Macron, written by two academics, the French Bénédicte Savoy and the Senegalese Felwine Sarr, a supporter of facilitating the return of work to former colonies.

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An evolution hailed by the Senegalese Minister of Culture, Abdou Latif Coulibaly. If French officials decide "To restore permanently [des œuvres]we will find ways to recover them "he said. "If they have decided on another form of repayment, deposit or loan, we are ready to find solutions with France"added Mr. Coulibaly, saying that he was ready to recover as many as possible without being able to estimate it.

CMN "Supports the status of a modern museum" where is it "You can control the temperature and the humidity in every room"said Bocum. "Benin is coming too"With the planned opening in 2020 of four modern museums in historic cities, said Ousmane Aledji, in charge of his country's mission, to which Mr. Macron announced the return of 26 works claimed as soon as the report was presented. of Cotonou.

"Projection" for the future

This type of projects "A series of small debates on Africa also comes to a halt in their content"Mr. Aledji said, referring to the doubts expressed by some experts on the conditions for receiving these works. "If these assets belong to the Africans, what are Westerners interfering to know if Africa knows how to keep them or not?"he vehemently questioned the rector of Cheikh-Anta-Diop Dakar University, taking his name from a Senegalese intellectual who helped rehabilitate the contribution of black populations to world culture.

"The question is wrong, because the answer is already given by the Africans who produced them and stored for centuries in excellent condition outside the museums"added the rector of the main University of Senegal, Ibrahima Thioub.

Read also African heritage: "We are not at war with French museums"

The idea of ​​a museum of black civilization was launched by the poet Léopold Sédar Senghor, first president of the country, during the first World Festival of the Negro arts in 1966 in Dakar. Half a century later, CMN was born and "Everyone will be there to demonstrate our openness and our ability to tell others: "We exist, but we exist with you and with you" "said the minister of culture. The CMN wants to highlight "The contribution of Africa to cultural and scientific heritage"says Bocoum. But his goal is "Above all to project itself" to the future. "We will not remain in contemplation"he promised.

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