This is what HM The Queen said on the day it happened in October 2014 “…It is really Lovely’. Perhaps one day, Africa will conceive ‘The Thing’ – The Ultimate communication device!
Six Networks that changed the world
Connecting Africa – an exhibit at the Science Museum, Kensington London co-created between the Cameroon Diaspora and the Science Museum
The Cameroonian diaspora were asked to become involved in a unique once-in-a-lifetime project that encompassed many ‘firsts’.
The ‘first first’, Cameroon was acknowledged as the best representation of Africa, bringing to life the much ‘thrown-about’ saying that Cameroon is ‘Africa in Miniature’. Cameroon was selected to represent the state of making modern communication in Africa. A slice in time that looked at the history of communication, from the talking drum, through to the arrival of the mobile phone. The historicity naturally also examined the social, cultural, political, economic, and technological context of the story, resulting in an extremely rich mix of an exhibit.
The ‘second first’ is the manner in which the exhibit was procured. The Science museum adopted a process called Co-Creation i.e. the experts in determining what was going to be exhibited, and how it was going to be exhibited was not some isolated museum employee who ‘knew Cameroon and Africa’, but rather The Cameroonian, or The African Rep. Respecting and acknowledging the connectedness of the Cameroonian diaspora to its motherland, the Science Museum approached the Cameroonian Diaspora via the Cameroon Forum platform to be its experts. The expertise brought to the table by this dynamic and illustrious diaspora included deciding what had to be exhibited, how it should be exhibited, the pertinent historical, commercial, social, and technological stories to tell, and also the content and structure of interactive videos – and alas, the diaspora experts were also the actors, editors, and producers of these videos. The exhibit that has emerged therefore truly reflects a unique synthesis of the aspirations of various stakeholders – the museum, its project enablers, its trustees, the heritage lottery fund, sponsors and supporters including BT, Bloomberg Philanthropies, ARM, and Google, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Accenture, BBC,The Institute of Engineering and Technology those in Cameroon who were interviewed, and those who provided their material to form part of the exhibit, and the Cameroonian Diaspora ‘experts’ – this is the team that delivered such a unique edifice that has taken its rightful place in this museum for at least the next 20 years. It will be a focal point of pilgrimage for many an Africa, Cameroonian, and friends of Africa.
The ‘third first’ is that the occasion of the opening of this exhibition saw history being made, with HM the Queen sending her first ever tweet. It was an awesome moment of modern communication history, and it was truly an honour to have been in the same space, and to have had the queen visit the exhibit – our exhibit entitled Connection Africa as one of the only three exhibits chosen for her to visit during her time in the museum. The divine message is that HM The Queen acknowledged that the exhibit we had co-created ‘is really lovely!’, after the chairman of Cameroon Forum Chris Nasah assured her that all the pieces exhibited were authentic, and came all the way from Cameroon
It has been an awesome journey from the beginning to seeing the coming together of ‘Connecting Africa’. The first mode of communication –The Talking Drum has come to London to speak to the people – that something very important is about to happen – that it is time for people to gather and herald a new age for Africa – good, effective and sustainable modes of communication being central to this process. That Cameroon and Africa occupy a unique space in the heart of a Royal Borough in London, and will do so for some time to come. That Cameroon and Africa have a space they can call their own, that will welcome pilgrims from far and wide, who will come to enjoy this new oracle to the new modern Africa with excellent communication facilities.
This exhibit therefore in many ways is a new beginning and a way forward. It is ‘youthful and exciting’, but also a challenge to Africa to join the race for innovation into modern communication devices for its growing youth population. This exhibit should herald a foray into science and technology programmes that encourage and reward innovation that draws its inspiration from Africa. Who knows, perhaps one day history will go full circle, and the latest ‘talking drum’ will once again emerge from Africa! Perhaps one day, the ultimate communication device will be conceived, designed, and manufactured in Africa – Connecting Africa to its rightful place in history.
Perhaps one day, Africa will conceive ‘The Thing’ – The Ultimate communication device! Welcome to Connecting Africa an exhibit at the Science Museum, Kensington London co-created between the Cameroon Diaspora and the Science Museum as part of ‘Information Age’ – Six Networks That Changed Our World. A permanent exhibition at The Science Museum
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