Africa should insist that archives and museum objects of its heroes should be originals, not digital copies, with Zimbabwe one of the countries with the facilities ready to receive and protect this heritage, President Mnangagwa has said.
Speaking yesterday at the opening of the International Conference of African cultures that drew traditional leaders from the continent, academics, African Union officials and others the President said it was critical to note that liberation movements over the continent did not solely fight for the realisation of political and economic independence but at the core of the struggle was socio-cultural emancipation and ownership of means of production.
The conference, running under the theme “Africa Speaks: Confronting Restitution and Repatriation of Artefacts, Human Remains, Objects and Archives from an African Perspective,” was meant to showcase African culture and rally the continent on the demand of repatriation of colonial artefacts so as to restore Africa’s integrity.
In common with most of the colonised world, Africa saw a great deal of looting of cultural objects and transfers of archives to European museums, and now wants them back. While near perfect copies can now be made with 3D printers and other technology, the unanimous feeling is that the originals should be in their home countries and copies in foreign museums.
The conference also saw the showcasing of Zimbabwean culture through traditional dance and that of Ghana through regalia, poetry and other displays led by the King of Akwamu Odeneho Kwafo III.
President Mnangagwa said Africa should reunite with that which belonged to it.
“The concerned museums and institutions in the West are urged to facilitate and cooperate with Africa in the ongoing repatriation and restitution efforts. The use of pseudo-measures and terms such as ‘Digital Repatriation’ and ‘Permanent Loans’ further infringes on the do no harm philosophy and sphere standards of development, thus delaying the closure of this sad chapter of our history,” said President Mnangagwa.
“I challenge the academia, heritage experts and professional institutions across the continent to resolutely pursue ‘Chimurenga Chepfungwa/the liberation of the mind’, informed by our strong African cultural belief systems and identity.”