On Wednesday, Feb 3rd the West African Research Center (WARC) opened its doors to the public to attend an innovative exhibit offered by the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), the Cultural Engineering and Anthropological Research Unit (URICA) of University Cheikh Anta Diop (UCAD-IFAN), the NGO ImagiNation Afrika and WARC. This exhibit was the culmination of years of collaborations between NMAAHC, URICA and WARA/WARC and WARA/WARC have been collaborating with the NMAAHC on projects in Senegal for over 5 years.
The nine-banner exhibition, titled Archaeology Senegal, is in French and Wolof and was created to encourage an interest in archaeology and Senegalese history in the younger generation through an easily accessible and understandable format. The project aims to build the capacity of schools visiting the archaeology laboratory of Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD), at the Institut fondamental d’Afrique Noire (IFAN), by providing them with educational materials for the exhibit and documentation on the exhibition in French and Wolof, as well as audio material in both languages. It also proposes, after the visit to the exhibit, additional enrichment resources.
The exhibit was featured in a recent article by The Patriotic Vanguard which states, “[The exhibit] highlights how archaeology serves as a bridge between the past and the present. The exhibition explains how material culture contributes to understanding the values, experiences and complexity of Senegal’s past. It explores several of Senegal’s many locations for archaeological discovery and brings to life some of Senegal’s most important archaeological treasures.”
The event kicked off with opening remarks from the Director of WARC, Professor Ousmane Sene, who discussed WARC’s collaborative work with the Smithsonian NMAAHC and URICA and saluted the delegation representing the US Embassy by emphasizing the continued support of the US diplomatic representation to WARC’s initiatives and achievements in the worlds of learning, education, cultural cooperation and expressions.
Dr. Ibrahima Thiaw, Professor of Archaeology at Cheikh Anta Diop University and Director of the Cultural Engineering and Anthropology Research Unit describe the exhibit as “… a major step in democratizing archaeology… We are committed to helping Senegalese students and teachers see archaeology in practice, this banner exhibition helps to connect Senegalese children to their history in a visually appealing and easily accessible way.”
Professor Ibrahima Thiaw also stated that archaeology, with all the artefacts it can display, illustrates the inventiveness of human genius and its adaptive abilities, should be used (along with other fields of knowledge) to help people (particularly the grassroot populations) to come to terms with their past and history and better understand and appropriate their identities.
Click here for a direct link to the Archaeology Senegal to see the banners, educational resources, and a gallery of photos from the event.