African Folklore Series

Rwanda Joins World to Celebrate International Museum Day.

On May 18, every year, the global museum community comes together to celebrate the role of museums in society. For this year’s commemoration, Rwanda joined the global community to celebrate International Museum Day. it is being celebrated at the Natural Heritage Museum in Karongi district under the theme “The role of museums in sustainable development”.

The cultural council in Rwanda organized a series of activities as part of the celebrations such as campaigns in schools, visits to heritage sites, and symposiums on Rwanda’s heritage. The Director General of Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy, Robert Masozera before the celebration pointed out the existence of permanent and temporary exhibitions in eight public museums which include the King’s Palace, Rwesero Art Museum, National Museum, Kandt House Museum, Rwanda Art Museum, Campaign against Genocide Museum, Natural Heritage Museum, and National Liberation War History in Mulindi.

There were also notable initiatives Masozera mentioned, undertaken by the Cultural Council like a partnership with Google Art and cultural space to digitize Rwandan cultural assets, engagement with youth through the Rwanda Heritage Hub project, and the opening of temporary exhibitions at different museums. 

Museums in Rwanda however, are met with several challenges. The Director stressed the need for improved technologies for conserving and displaying Rwandan heritage, greater engagement from private sectors, enhanced capacity of buildings, and the renovation of existing cultural heritage interpretation layouts.

The Rwanda Heritage Cultural Academy is working together with the public, especially the youth to address these problems and also to preserve Rwandan cultural heritage and transform it into valuable products.  

The cultural heritage in Rwanda is widely promoted through television, radio, and various social platforms to attract visitors from across the world. Putting together exhibitions that highlight traditional practices, folklore, and historical events, museums in Rwanda aim to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the country’s cultural legacy for both locals and international visitors.

Every year, International Museum Day focuses on a distinct theme that shifts to represent a current global issue or theme confronting museums. IMD gives museum professionals the chance to interact with the general people, inform them of the difficulties that museums encounter, and increase public understanding of the significance of museums to the advancement of society. Additionally, it encourages conversation among museum specialists.

Africans earn world’s biggest financial reward, recognition in history discipline.

  • Two Africans stood out in the 2023 Dan David Prize – Saheed Aderinto and Chao Tayiana Maina.
  • Both scholars have done significant and recognition-worthy works in the discipline of history.
  • Each of them is to receive a financial reward of $300,000.


Nigeria’s Saheed Aderinto and Kenya’s Chao Tayiana Maina have earned additional labels that consolidate their achievements; both the Nigerian professor of History and African Diaspora Studies and the founder of the African Digital Heritage, this February, won foremost global award that distinguishes and supports outstanding contributions to the study of history and other disciplines that shed light on the human past, a recognition considered the biggest history prize in the world – the Dan David Prize.


Aderinto, 44-year-old professor of History and African Diaspora Studies at the Florida International University, and Maina, emerged as two from the nine winners announced on the 28th of February as recipients of $300,000 each, for their respective contributions to history research and to support their future works in the discipline. The Prize, described by The Washington Post as “the new MacArthur-style ‘genius grant’ for history”, and its financial attachment, which is an integral part of it, sits huge as the biggest history prize in the world.



Maina, a Kenyan historian and digital humanities scholar working at connecting culture and technology, focuses her work principally on using technology to preserve, engage, and disseminate African heritage.

Professor Ariel Porat, President of the Tel Aviv University, and Chairman of the Dan David Prize Board, while announcing the winners, said “the nine recipients exemplify outstanding research in history and related fields. They were chosen by a committee of international experts, following an open nomination process. Their scholarship reflects the interests of Dan David, the founder of the prize who was a businessman with a passion for archaeology and history.”

Porat clarified that the prize had since 2022 focused exclusively on history in its many facets. He continued, “giving this annual prize provides the opportunity to celebrate the exceptional work of scholars and practitioners who surprise us with insights into people, places and ideas that might otherwise remain forgotten or misunderstood.”


About the winners, Porat held that “they are scholars and practitioners who have the potential to reshape their fields in the future, and it is our hope that this prize will assist them to do so.”

The selection board applauded the winners’ work “for situating African history at the cutting edge of diverse literatures in the history of sexuality, nonhumans, and violence, noting that it is exceptional to see a single person leading scholarship in all of these fields.”


Aderinto took his celebration to facebook, he wrote: “Yes! I just won the largest history prize in the world. It’s $300,000. For me, alone. One lump sum. 220 million, in Nigerian currency. I have just received the highest financial reward for excellence in the historical discipline, on planet earth. It’s a Prize, not a grant. I don’t think there is any history prize worth $100,000 in cash—much less $300,000. While 300k is a lot of money in any strong global currency, the true value of the Dan David Prize is not the cash per se but what it would help me do for my students and mentees, institutions, global infrastructure of knowledge, and communities of practice. Hence, the award is about my scholarly achievement as much as about the people, institutions, and communities I represent.”


On the award he wrote: “The Dan David Prize was founded in 2000 with an endowment by Romanian-born Israeli businessman and philanthropist Dan David. Between 2001 and 2021, it awarded $1 million, each, to three very senior extraordinary humans in science, medicine, public health, politics, economics, art, and literature. Past recipients include Dr. Anthony Fauci, the public face of the US fight against COVID-19, former American Vice-President Al Gore, and MIT economics professor and Nobel Prize Winner Esther Duflo, among others. In 2022, the Dan David Prize was redesigned to become the largest history prize on earth to recognize nine exceptional historians with $300,000, each. $ 2.7 million in total. Recipients’ Ph.D. mustn’t be older than 15 years. I received my Ph.D. 13 years ago. I’m among the second cohort of the new history-focused Dan David Prize.”


It “recognizes outstanding scholarship that illuminates the past and seeks to anchor public discourse in a deeper understanding of history.” Recipients must be engaged in “outstanding and original work related to the study of the human past, employing any chronological, geographical and methodological focus.” They “should exhibit strong potential for future excellence, innovation and leadership that will help shape the study of the past for years to come.” While the Prize winners “must have completed at least one major project, the prize is not given for that project, but rather in recognition of the winner’s overall achievements as well as their potential for future excellence.”



He went ahead to admonish younger folks, he penned: “To all young and up-and-coming people out there—how hard are you working towards extraordinary rewards that don’t exist today, but will emerge tomorrow? Do you spend more on depreciables like cars, owambe, clothes, and phones, than on appreciables like knowledge, technology, skills, or a living condition that would enhance your creativity, increase your productivity, and strengthen your problem-solving abilities?

Are you seeking selfless mentors/sponsors who would help you get off the ground so you can fly beyond limits—with your own wings, on your own terms, at your own pace? Are you investing selflessly in your subordinates? Do you believe in and work for a cause that is bigger than you and your name, and that places people and institutions at the center of collective growth, shared honor, and democratized progress? Are you real to yourself, people, and circumstances? Are you building sustainable personal and professional relationships across gender and sexual orientation, nationality, religion, ideology, race, ethnicity, generation, e.t.c.? Are you learning the art of leadership within your community, profession, or network?


How strong is your faith in God or whatever you believe in? Do you have the discipline to wait, and wait, and wait—while also maintaining consistently high productivity—until your labor and investment begin to yield the best results? Do you believe in an instant or delayed gratification? How intentional, audacious, conscientious, and gritty are you? Do you have friends, colleagues, and family who would say—Mafo, mo wa pelu e (meaning ‘don’t relent, I am with you’ in Yoruba language) —even at the peak of your failures and vulnerabilities? If you have honest and self-reflective responses to these questions, then you can achieve something bigger than the largest history prize on planet earth”.


Aderinto, born in Ibadan in 1979, received his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Ibadan in 2004 and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, Austin in 2010. Later that year his teaching career took off at Western Carolina University where he became a full Professor of History in 2021. In 2022, he moved to Florida International University.


The professor has published 8 books, 41 encyclopedia articles, 37 journal articles and book chapters, and 21 book reviews. His new book ‘Animality and Colonial Subjecthood in Africa’ inspects the roles of animals in Nigerian history. Also, he is currently writing a book as well as creating a documentary on Fuji music.

Aderinto is also the founding president of the Lagos Studies Association and a senior research fellow of the French Institute for Research in Africa.


Chao Tayiana Maina holds an MSc in International Heritage Visualisation and a BSc in Mathematics and Computer Science. Her research work explored the possibilities of implanting intangible histories in 3D digital environments. She is widely acknowledged for her bright work in documenting Kenyan history in innovative ways.

Maina, also the co-founder of Museum of British Colonialism and Open Restitution Africa project, and she specializes in using digital technologies to study unseen historical narratives with the intent to make them reachable to broader audiences. Her work centers on supporting African and Afro-diaspora communities to regain their identities and cultural heritage.

She is renowned for successfully upholding collaborative and interactive histories, where communities are invited to join the process of historical examination and findings.


The two awardees have since been collecting congratulations from different quarters.






Over a thousand followers assembled in the Atlantic coast town of Ouidah, a once important slave trade port, in Benin to celebrate the country’s 500-year-old traditional religion with voodoo festivities.


The ritual attracted people of African descent from different parts of the world chiefly because of their shared African heritage.

For them, discovering and preserving their ancestral roots is noble as well as interesting, so, they converge to watch the extravagant yearly rites of drumming, dance, and display of honor to gods and spirits.


The convergence did not come without some fizz for the country’s tourism and hospitality industry as natives and visitors enjoy different spectacles, native cuisines, attires, and relaxation spots, all amounting to a boost in revenue circulation.


As part of its development plan, the government has set aside a stretch of beachfront between the main city Cotonou and Ouidah as a special tourism zone for visitors, who it believes will also be keen to visit historical slave locations, pre-colonial palaces, and tour the natural marvels of Benin’s inland.


According to recent annual data from the World Tourism Organization, about 350,000 tourists visited Benin in 2020, although numbers have been growing progressively since 292,000 people visited in 2016.


The voodoo festivities, a traditional African spirit religion that spread to the Americas with the slave trade, were declared a national holiday in 1992.


This year followers of the religion from neighboring countries like Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria, as well as from distant locations like Haiti, Brazil, and the United States all converged to experience the national holiday, where performers, dressed as protectors of the night, dazzled in fascinating costumes delighting worshippers and tourists alike.


Dance groups gyrate to enthralling drumming and chant sessions as onlookers savor the sight while taking videos and pictures with their phones.


According to voodoo spiritual leader Daagbo Hounon Houna II, people come in swelling numbers because voodoo is no longer considered sorcery or barbarism.


Inland, in Savalou, the backyard of Prime Minister Lionel Zinsou, priests and luminaries set a chicken ablaze at the ceremony and then spread its blood and palm oil on a totem made with sand and cowrie shells, as part of the rites.


Voodoo is practiced by around 12% of the West African country’s population of 13 million people, but the authorities also want to use these deep mystical heritages and remarkable customs to attract more tourists and boost the agriculture-dependent economy.


Group dances and mystic costumes of the Ouidah festival were likely to be the highlight for many spectators.




In west Africa, where popular belief suggests that only men would typically handle security concerns, Dragon Squad, an exclusively female security outfit founded in 2018, has continued to stand tall among men.


According to the founder, Emem Thomas, 37, a big body type sits on top of the list of requirements for recruitment into the team of female bouncers. Next on the list is a passion for the job, then other qualifications follow.


The team works only with plus-size ladies of a certain weight and shape, creating a haven for huge women to find a path in a field that is typically controlled by men.


Inspiration to float an all-female security team came from the personal experiences of the founder, whose big body always attracted scornful remarks from her thinner peers, puncturing her confidence to pursue the life of pageantry.


She found a forte that put the spotlight on the very thing she was mocked for, and using the same, she built a life for herself, and other young women like her, through her team of female bouncers.


For Thomas, change truly comes when barriers are broken, and women are welcomed to show what they can contribute to all sectors of society. She no longer considers herself an introvert nor does she still shy away from events, and she is gradually replicating the same results in young African girls.


According to her, “Most of them (her girls) were always shy. They couldn’t talk,” she said, pointing out that she too was withdrawn and cold, burdened by her weight. The outfit has reportedly raised African women with skills, strength, and most importantly for Thomas, confidence.


Standing in front of a crowd to give orders can be an uphill task, especially for women who grew up avoiding the public eye. She nudges her girls to always face the crowd and be themselves, even as they bear in mind that they should be seen and known.

These feats add up to her interventions as an advocate for the rights of girls and women.


She believes firmly that female bouncers, simply by listening to troublemakers and victims in a way that most men do not have the temper and calmness for, have the unique ability to wade off danger in an interestingly unusual, yet effective, manner. So, the discussions around hiring bouncers in Africa should cease to tilt towards the regular – employing only men.


Emem always keeps in mind the risk of molestation on the job, as well as the tendency to be looked down on by men, as she hints at the team’s readiness for such cases.


The Dragon Squad’s 43 recruits have worked as security women in over two thousand events including house parties, funerals, political rallies, and club nights, while most young west African girls might be honing their skills in other areas like makeup, fashion, and other trades perceived as ideal for women.


In addition to walkie-talkies, boots, and dark glasses, the bouncers carry pepper spray to wade off potential aggressors.


23-year-old bouncer Peace Vigorous, the youngest of the crew, mentioned that joining the squad helped her see how she could be different from other girls.


On the name choice, Emem says, “I love what I see dragons do in movies, they are also a symbol of power and protection.”


Emem’s newfound confidence, drive, and vision have transformed her social and family life in the city of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, where the 37-year-old lives with her two children.



Recently opened at Art Twenty-one, Eko Hotels and Suites in Lagos is an exhibition of sculptures representing the Chibok school girls abducted in 2014 in Nigeria.

The Art exhibition is the cooperative effort of French multidisciplinary artist, Prune Nourry from the Department of Fine & Applied Arts of the Obafemi Awolowo University and the families of the over 250 Chibok girls abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists in Borno State, Nigeria.

The exhibition which had 108 sculpture heads by the French artist and students of OAU Fine & Applied Arts department was tagged “Statutes Also Breathe” and inspired by the ancient Ife terracotta heads. It also stimulated memory of the Igbo Landing of the Igbo slaves who decided to drown instead of surrending to slavery in US.

The exhibition hall was packed full with carved heads on tripods stands, lovers of arts and representatives of mothers of the holding as a campaign to ensure the return of the remaining girls. 

It featured an audio-visual medium which showed the processes involved in the making of the artworks and also a documentary of the rescued Chibok girls who shared their experience while in captivity.

According to the French artist, Nourry, the art exhibition is to remember the Chibok girls as the works are symbols of their agony which also signify love for the girls. 

The project seeks to raise awareness on the state of the Chibok girls still missing and serve means of advocacy on girl child education. 

The exhibition is scheduled to run till 4th February, 2023 on a tour across the world and the sculptures will be taken to the permanent collection of a museum in Africa upon completion of the tour. 

The President of the Missing Chibok girl’s Parent Association, Yakubu Nkeki described the exhibition as a great vision and by seeing the artworks, the Chibok girls will not be forgotten.


As a warning that the Kankurang is coming, sharp sounds of clanking machetes cut the air. Children fearfully run inside their homes as the scary being approaches, chuntering. Out of curiosity, others risk a closer look at the man dressed to represent the spiritual figure.

The Kankurang is the guarantor of order and justice as well as the exorcist of evil spirits, as such, he ensures transmission and teaching of a complex collection of know-how and practices underpinning Manding cultural identity.

The traditional Kankurang is an initiate who wears a mask made of the bark and red fibre of the Faara tree and is clothed in leaves, and body painted with vegetable dyes. He is the central character of the circumcision ceremonies and initiatory rites.

This initiation rite is practiced by the Mandinka ethnic groups in Gambia and neighbouring Senegal. There is a small procession of teenagers and young men who are accompanying four young boys getting to the end of month-long-initiation rite following the Kankurang.

In an article on, Mamadou Jallow who led one of the ceremonies and looked after the boys during a four-week initiation period said: “This is the place where we trained them (the boys) how to respect people and how to respect elders and so on”.

He said that the Kankurang is a spirit and humans do not have his power, although some men dress like the Kankurang during the ceremonies to chase away evil from the boys.

At the end of the rite, families, friends and neighbours gather to celebrate and for the presentation of the newly initiated boys, each of them dancing in front of the crowd, wearing collars made of candies and money bills.

Musicians play traditional drums, joyfully dancing and the community welcomes the boys as men who will carry on with their traditions.

Despite it being a traditional and cultural belief, the Kankurang was recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which proclaimed it a cultural heritage.

However, according to UNESCO, it said the traditional practice is at risk of retreating because of the rapid urbanization of most of Senegal and Gambia.