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How to Tell the History of Africans Enslaved the Right Way

Museums all over the world have struggled to move beyond presenting more than emotionally removed snapshots of the slave trade. Most of these halls are continuing a long tradition of disconnecting themselves and the public from personal and local stories of slavery. This makes them disconnected from community and public memories. African museums are also guilty of this practice. The transatlantic slave trade was a 400-year period during which African people were stolen from their homes and shipped to colonial nations. It was complex and multi-faceted. But when presented by museums today, it is communicated as a singular and temporarily isolated event. African museums frame the transatlantic slave trade narratives from an economic perspective. Their narratives are built around economic drivers and the economic effects of slavery on African countries, and the countries that benefited from the trade. It is critical that museum professionals in Nigeria – and the rest of the world – begin to open up dialogue with diverse local communities. Museums must be immersed in people-centric local narratives. They have to also build trust with the communities in which they operate.