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BIRTH of the International Council of African Museums (AFRICOM)

9th October, 1999, Lusaka, Zambia

Seventy-five museum professionals from all over the African continent meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, officially inaugurated AFRICOM (International Council of African Museums) as a non-governmental, autonomous and pan-African organization of museums.

Co-organized by the National Museums Board (Ministry of Tourism of Zambia) and ICOM (International Council of Museums) under the patronage of Alpha Oumar Konaré, President of the Republic of Mali, the Constituent Assembly of AFRICOM was held from 3 to 9 October 1999 in Lusaka, Zambia, on the theme "Building together with the community: a challenge for African museums".

A woman, Mrs Shaje'a Tshiluila, from the Democratic Republic of Congo was elected President of the AFRICOM Board of Directors for a three-year term. Mrs. Tshiluila stressed the fact that "AFRICOM must help professionals in Africa to create museums adapted to the continent" and wished to recall the words of President Konaré who, in 1991, when he was President of ICOM, said "It is time, high time, to call all of this into question, to "kill", and I do mean kill, the Western model of museums in Africa so that new methods for the preservation and promotion of Africa`s cultural heritage can be allowed to flourish".

Together with Shaje`a Tshiluila, a treasurer and representatives of the six regions of Africa were also elected until the year 2002:

Treasurer: Jean-Aime Rakotoarisoa, Madagascar

Regional Representatives:

North Africa: Ali Amahan, Morocco

East Africa: Kassaye Begashaw, Ethiopia

West Africa: Samuel Sidibe, Mali

Southern Africa: Tickey Pule, Botswana

Indian Ocean: Ali Mohamed Gou, Comoros

Central Africa: Pascal Makambila, Congo


Kenya won against Nigeria as host for the AFRICOM Headquarters. The AFRICOM Secretariat will thus set up its offices on the premises of the National Museums of Kenya which has offered technical and logistic facilities to AFRICOM.

Grouped into three workshops, the participants debated the following themes: Museums and Community; Education, Management and Professional Training; Networks. The discussions and the exchanges of professional practices led to the drafting of a programme of AFRICOM activities for the three years to come which was adopted in the Plenary Sessions.

The activities and projects of this programme cover a great variety of subjects. Training, professional capacity building, museum autonomy and heritage risk protection were retained as priorities. The professionals also wished to include projects for the intangible heritage, multiculturalism, cultural tourism and management of human remains and sacred objects.

Finally, the participants, after lengthy discussion, adopted the statutes of the organisation that will govern AFRICOM, its bodies and its fields of intervention. A three-year budget was also adopted.

AFRICOM, the International Council of African Museums, is first and foremost the pan-African organisation of museums, however it is already open to the other continents. The representative of the Regional Organisation for Asia and the Pacific who attended this Assembly, as well as the representative of Bolivia, were welcomed to AFRICOM as Affiliated Members, which is proof of the dynamism of this new organization.

At the end of this Constituent Assembly, Jacques Perot, President of ICOM, expressed pleasure at the birth of this new institution that he qualified as a major event for the future of African museums. He stressed that ICOM would maintain close and privileged links with AFRICOM.


 The Constituent Assembly of AFRICOM received support from:

The Ford Foundation, the Getty Grant Programme of the J. Paul Getty Trust, The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).






Updated: 11 July 2005