Accepted Paper:

Skills exchange or capacity building for Africa and African Diaspora in the 21st century?   


Clara A Arokiasamy

Paper long abstract:

Perceptions of mutual skills-share and exchange between the UK, Africa and the Caribbean in the management of the memory of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, enslavement and legacies among heritage professionals and academics in the three regions.

Events during the year long Commemoration of the Bicentenary of the Abolition of Slave Trade (TST) in the UK, during 2007, brought into sharp focus the need for skills development among museum and heritage professionals aimed at enabling them to conduct an informed and confident engagement with the audiences about the memory of the TST, enslavement and the legacies resulting from it.

In July 2007, participants’ attending the joint conference organised by Museum Libraries Archives Council in the UK and UNESCO for museums in the UK, Africa and the Caribbean, that held collections relating to the African Diaspora heritage and the TST, called for a mutual skills-share and exchange partnerships between the three regions. There was acknowledgement that all three regions would benefit from sharing a single narrative which captured the triangle slave trade between UK, Africa and the Caribbean/Americas. More importantly, the Africans’ and Caribbeans’ supported by their UK counterparts felt there was an urgent need for a three way partnership network for mutual exchange of knowledge and skills aimed at reconstructing colonial collections with new and relevant interpretation and presentation. The emphasis was on an “equitable and mutual skills exchange” which recognised that the African and African Diaspora’s contributions were of equal value.

The Museum in the Docklands (MiD) in London rose to the challenge and commissioned Clara Arokiasamy Associates to scope the African Caribbean Partnership Network (ACPN) skills exchange project and undertake a trans-national consultation on the proposal with key stakeholders in the UK, Africa, the Caribbean.

The paper would present the MiD’s ACPN proposal and findings revealed by the following aspects of the consultation.

1. A mapping exercise of skills share between the three regions which focussed exclusively on the memory of TST;

2. An assessment of future need in relation to mutual exchange of knowledge and skills between the three regions as perceived by key stakeholders in each of the continents and UNESCO.

Panel A5
After 2007: Africa in the heritage and intellectual landscape