As part of the course requirement, I decided to visit California African American Museum on 28 April 2015. The museum, which is located on 600 State Drive, Exposition Park in Los Angeles is open to the public for free starting from Tuesday up to Saturday between 10 am and 5pm and on Sunday between 11 am and 5pm. Before visiting the museum I had done some research on its official website to gain an idea of what I would be expecting from my visit. Its mission is to research and collect the history, culture and art of African American and to interpret it for public interests (California African American Museum). Armed with this and other information collected from the institution’s official website, I sought to pay a visit and learn about the connection between African and American and more specifically how Africans made their way from the shores of their countries to the slave fields of South America.
The exhibition that caught my eye and got me interested during my visit was the African American Journey West, which was first exhibited in April 6. I wanted to learn or have an insight into how the African felt as they were being uprooted from their home countries to a foreign land and how they brought with them their culture. This particular exhibition comprises various pieces of art, which are not attractive but also intriguing.
They demonstrate the love that Africans had for their families and society as well as the togetherness and cohesion that existed in their traditional communities. For example, according to the institution, Watts Riots Slides donated by an anonymous donor in 1966 gives evidence of the cohesion that existed in western African communities at that time. The slides indicate two women and a child carrying what appears to be a huge water melon. In the background, however, is a big notice with the inscription “Blood Brother” in what I could not clearly tell whether was red color or blood. Further in the background is an old lorry overflowing with what I can only assume to be water melons. This depicts Africa as a country of abundance, which has suffered immense imbalance thanks to the slave trade.
Another interesting artifact in the exhibition is the Bush cow mask that signifies the 20th century, Nigerian Chamba culture. This culture, as I learnt, was practiced between the Nigerian-Cameroon borders and was used in dancing. It demonstrated the wild spirits represented by wild animals and has consequently being linked to power and potential. One cannot help to wonder about the strength and vitality associated with the bush cow or what is commonly referred to as forest buffalo. Among other artifacts in the exhibition such as wool shawl and scarf, formerly owned by Eliza Corsey, are the horn blower and Queen Zarita. This artifact depicts a strong African culture, which has also found their way in the modern American one.
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It is fascinating to see how rich and important African culture was and how it has penetrated into the modern culture. Still, the exhibition does help, to some extent, in explanation of the behavior of Africans in the past as it was witnessed in the rebellions in the slave farms of South America. For example, the bush cow mask has been associated with aggressiveness and, to a certain extent, represented the idea of death.
Overall, the exhibition is a mind blower and informative as it does capture some of the culture of traditional African societies and give an idea how some of the culture diffused in American’s modern day culture. It also helps explain, to a certain extent, the behavior of African before and after coming to America.
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