Africa is a continent of deep history and culture. Significant historical events have shaped it into what it is today, many spanning from the ancient world to modern-day Africa. Our numerous museums and historical sites allow us a window into these events, connecting us to our past and shared consciousness.
The Apartheid Museum, South Africa
The apartheid system forced different racial groups to live and develop separately, causing gross inequality. People of colour were negatively affected, as apartheid laws took away their rights to own land and access economic opportunities. The state enforced these laws through police and military means, harshly punishing those who disagreed with its policies.
Johannesburg’s Apartheid Museum houses artefacts of this era. Visitors are able to see how this system impacted all facets of life.
Kigali Genocide Memorial, Rwanda
In 1994, an airplane carrying Rwandan President Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart was shot down, killing everyone on board. As they were both Hutus, Hutu extremists saw this as an attack by Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). This sparked the genocide that saw as many as 800 000 people killed in the Rwandan capital of Kigali.
The fighting spread when ordinary citizens were incited by the Hutu Power government to take up arms against their neighbours, only ending when the Uganda-backed RPF took control of Kigali.
Located in Gisozi, the Kigali Genocide Memorial commemorates those who lost their lives in the genocide.
The National Slavery Museum, Angola
The transatlantic slave trade occurred between the 15th and 19th centuries, with Angola being the primary destination for slaves for various colonial powers. The number of people shipped off as slaves from Angola ranges between 13 and 100 million.
Founded in 1997, the National Slavery Museum in Luanda remembers those who endured torture and mass murder during the transatlantic slave trade.
Pyramids of Meroe, Sudan
The city of Meroe in Sudan’s Nile Valley is home to the Nubian pyramids that were part of the Kingdom of Kush. About 220 in total, they are the burial sites for Nubian kings and queens who led the Ku**bleep**e kingdom that rose to power in 1000 BC.
The pyramids receive few visitors due to their isolated location, and are managed by local villagers who seek to protect their history.
Benin City National Museum, Nigeria
The ancient Benin Empire was one of Africa’s most developed kingdoms. In the 15th century, Ewuare the Great ascended the throne, turning the empire into a powerful military force that traded weapons, slaves and goods with Europe. The empire also developed advanced artistic creations made of bronze, iron and ivory. Most popular of these are the life-sized bronze heads of the Obas of Benin.
The empire began its decline in the late 19th century when the British burned the city during a diplomatic dispute.
Benin City National Museum is located in Benin City, the capital of Nigeria’s Edo State, and houses art of the ancient empire.