C o m m o n w e a l t h
A s s o c i a t i o n o f
M u s e u m s
CAM Bulletin Number 2 - Feb. 1996
Museum Development in Sub-Saharan Africa
May 30 to June 1, 1996 at ICCROM
Rome Workshop Report
Representatives of four museum organizations or programs working in sub Saharan Africa met at ICCROM in Rome from May 30 to June 1, 1996 to look at ways of collaboration in promoting museum development in sub Saharan Africa. Participants included the Commonwealth Association of Museums (CAM); ICCROM and the PREMA programme, Prevention in Museums of Africa; the Southern African Development Community Association of Museums and Monuments (SADCAMM); and the West African Museums Programme (WAMP).
The specific objectives of the meeting were:
- To identify priority areas for cooperation with African museums which will enable them to independently establish and implement common programmes of activities by the year 2000;
- To identify requirements and conditions for development of African museums networks which could best contribute on the long term to the establishment and implementation of those common programmes.
The welcoming address by Marc Laenen, Director General of ICCROM, set the stage by placing cultural and heritage preservation and museum development in the context of sustainable human development. The role of African museums in contributing to this development is critical and participants were charged to consider priorities, strategies and practical recommendations to work together as partners to achieve common goals.
ICCROM-PREMA staff, Catherine Antomarchi, Gael de Guichen, Alain Godonou and Terry Little guided and facilitated the sessions. Emmanuel Arinze drew on his extensive experience in the African museum community to describe the previous efforts at networking among museums in Africa. He looked at the experiences of AMATiMATA, the Museums Association of Tropical Africa, OMMSA, the Organization of Museums, Monuments and Sites of Africa, the Training Centre at Jos, Nigeria, and the Niamey Centre in Niger. Presentations covering the history, mission and objectives, structure and working methods, successes and main activities, and which African countries were concerned, were made by Lois Irvine, CAM, Alain Godonou, PREMA, Vincent Katanekwa, SADCAMM and Alexis Adandé, WAMP.
The next discussion focused on the questions: 'What are the key problems faced by African museums in developing and implementing their programmes" and "Which of these problems can be solved through common responses". Ten main problems were identified with priorities in the areas of:
- training human resources at all levels
- ensuring opportunities for professional exchange
- training of senior staff in management and planning
- making museums relevant to their societies
- assisting museums to be less dependent on governments for funding
Problems which could be addressed through common responses centre on training and the sharing of information on successful initiatives. Successful networks could help in all areas.
The broad picture regarding the level of museum development and the existence of effective networks in the several regions of sub-Saharan Africa was discussed.
Myra Speelmans of the Evaluation Service of the FAO in Rome provided a very informative and useful session on networks, their development and characteristics, factors in success and some key elements. Representatives used this background context to assess their own organizations, their strengths and weaknesses, and where they could improve.
The final session revisited the priority needs and discussed some ways and means of collaboration. A letter to the Boards of the organizations was drafted by Emmanuel Arinze on behalf of the participants. The Boards were asked to approve in principle collaboration at all levels to work together for common goals. Each should encourage free flow of information, involve and consult each other on planning and implementation of programs, develop joint programs, and encourage the establishment of a committee to plan and eventually realize the transfer of PREMA to Africa. Plans for action would be developed on approval by the parties.
Other Africa based museum organizations would be welcome to join the initiative.
The round table concluded with a better understanding of the overall problems faced by museums in Africa and of colleague organizations, and how working together could address the issues. Above all, there emerged a conviction, based on a systematic look at the African situation, that collaboration will not only attack the problems more efficiently and effectively, but act as an encouragement and inspiration in a sometimes daunting task.
A special thanks is extended to PREMA for its foresight and expertise in organizing and hosting this important meeting.