Africa is a continent rich in history, culture, and natural beauty, and there are many fascinating museums to explore that offer a window into its diverse past and present. From ancient civilizations to modern-day struggles for justice and equality, Africa’s museums offer a glimpse into the continent’s many stories and narratives. For travel enthusiasts and history buffs, visiting these museums can be a way to deepen one’s understanding and appreciation of Africa’s rich and complex heritage, while also enjoying the unique sights, sounds, and flavours of the continent. Whether you’re interested in art, archaeology, or social justice, there is a museum in Africa that is sure to captivate and inspire. Here are 7 great ones to begin with.
Slave House Museum, Goree Island, Senegal
This museum is a haunting reminder of the cruelty of the transatlantic slave trade and the tragic past Africans continue to live with. It is one of the sites where African slaves were held before being shipped away to the Americas. The house remains intact with iron shackles and cells where African men, women can children were kept in appalling conditions. They would languish in these inhumane conditions for up to three months before being shipped off. Even more heartbreaking, the museum houses the ‘Door of No Return’ through which every captured African walked as they were forced out of their homes forever and put on the path to their brutal futures. It’s a reminder of what it historically meant to be black and what it still means. There are debates on whether the door of no return is a scam.
Egyptian Antiques Museum, Cairo, Egypt
This museum gives you an opportunity to step back in time and explore the fascinating world of ancient Egypt. It has a huge collection of artefacts and treasures including the famous Tutankhamun collection. The collection includes mummies, statues and other treasures from pharaonic tombs and temples. It’s a treasure trove of exquisite and historically significant objects throughout Egypt’s long and storied past as one of the world’s greatest civilizations.
Apartheid Museum Johannesburg, South Africa
The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg is a poignant and powerful testament to the brutal and unjust system of apartheid that dominated South Africa for decades. Through immersive and interactive exhibits, the museum invites visitors to confront the trauma, brutality, and injustice of apartheid, highlighting the struggle for freedom and equality waged by countless activists and ordinary people. Tens of thousands of men, women and children paid with their lives for the freedoms enjoyed by black people in South Africa. The exhibits and artefacts offer a sobering reminder of the impact of discrimination and oppression and remind those who are involved in various struggles for justice and human dignity all over the world what the price of freedom is. It reminds all justice-minded people that organizing and struggle work. Every freedom we enjoy now was secured by our ancestors who fought for it. Resistance works.
The Musée National du Mali, Bamako, Mali
This museum is a cultural treasure trove, showcasing the art, history, and cultural heritage of Mali and the wider West African region. The museum’s collections include traditional masks, textiles, and sculptures, as well as archaeological artefacts and historical documents. Through its exhibits and programs, the museum offers visitors a chance to learn about the diverse cultures and peoples of Mali and to appreciate the richness and complexity of West African history and society.
The Museum of Black Civilizations, Dakar Senegal
This museum celebrates the cultural contributions of people of African descent around the world. Its exhibits cover a wide range of topics, including African art and culture, the transatlantic slave trade, the civil rights movement, and the contributions of black scientists, artists, and thinkers throughout history. Through its collections and programs, the museum seeks to promote greater understanding and appreciation of the rich and diverse cultures of people of African descent and to inspire pride and celebration in black heritage and achievement. The National Museum of Black Civilizations is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the global history and culture of the African diaspora.
Nairobi National Museum, Nairobi, Kenya
Formerly known as the National Museum of Kenya, this museum offers incredible insight into Kenya’s cultural and natural history. It houses ethnographic artefacts from the different ethnic groups in Kenya including traditional weapons, clothing, ornaments, furniture, ritual objects and more. It also has exciting permanent and temporary exhibitions lie the cradle of humankind which delves into human existence using fossils found in Kenya, the Birds of East Africa and the hall of mammals which respectively showcase the rich diversity of birds and wildlife in Kenya. Animals you could end up spotting while on safari.