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BIRTH of a pan-African organisation of museums

AFRICOM - the International Council of African Museums

3rd to 9th October, 1999, Lusaka, Zambia

The Constituent Assembly of the International Council of African Museums (AFRICOM) will be held from 3rd to 9th October 1999, in Lusaka in Zambia, on the theme of "Building together with the Community: a Challenge for African museums".

The meeting is being organised jointly by ICOM (International Council of Museums) and the National Museums Board of the Zambian Ministry of Tourism.

The basis for AFRICOM has been established through an ICOM programme for Africa implemented by museums in Africa and coordinated by ICOM under the supervision of an African Coordinating Committee. The initiative grew out of the Encounters What Museums for Africa? Heritage in the Future organised, in 1991, by ICOM in Lomé (Togo). AFRICOM's sphere of activity is centred around museum development, protection of heritage, and access to culture throughout the African continent. Special projects have been set up, particularly for fighting against the looting of antiquities, setting up standards for inventories, and developing suitable educational services. The meeting in Lusaka will give the programme a new impetus.

AFRICOM is now becoming the International Council of African Museums, an autonomous non-governmental organisation (NGO) that will be coordinated, managed and financed under the responsibility of African professionals.

Museum and heritage managers from 40 African countries, together with international policy-makers and economic advisers will be meeting in Lusaka to adopt the statutes of the new organisation, choose the country for the headquarters, and vote the budget and the activities programme for the 2000-2002 period.

The meeting of professionals will also provide the opportunity to assess the various activities that AFRICOM has carried out since 1991, and to examine the present situation of African museums in order to study innovative ways of strengthening museum impact on community development.

Participants will be divided into three workshops, focusing on themes including Museums and Community, Professional Education and Training, and Networking, to share their experiences and compare professional practices.

As an autonomous pan-African organisation, AFRICOM should promote the participation of museums in the context of global and sustainable development, strengthen networks for collaboration and cooperation among museum professionals in Africa and abroad, and lastly, involve all components of society in the protection and enhancement of cultural heritage.

Alpha Oumar Konaré, President of the Republic of Mali and past President of ICOM stated at the Lomé meeting in Togo in 1991: "It is time, high time, to call all of this into question, to "kill", and I do mean kill, the Western model of museum in Africa so that new methods for the preservation and promotion of Africa's cultural heritage can be allowed to flourish".

How does the situation stand today? What has AFRICOM done, and how can it go forward to achieve the above? What are AFRICOM's major prospects and priority areas? These are questions to which the participants at the Constituent Assembly will have to reply.


 With the support of:

The Ford Foundation, the Getty Grant Program of the J. Paul Getty Trust,

the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and

the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Contacts in Zambia:

Tel.: (260.1) 228.807. Cel.: (260.1) 779 .746. Fax: (260.1) 223.788.

Email: nmboard@zamnet.zm






Updated: 11 July 2005