First-ever children’s museum of African culture in the U.S. coming to Baltimore

March 17, 2019 at 04:00 pm | Diaspora Connect

Ismail Akwei

Ismail Akwei | Contributor

March 17, 2019 at 04:00 pm | Diaspora Connect

Founder of Sankofa Children’s Museum of African Cultures, Esther “Mama Kiki” Armstrong (in yellow) with children and their parents at her Sankofa African & World Bazaar shop in Baltimore. (Photo: CBS Baltimore)

Baltimore will host the first-ever children’s museum of African culture and history in the United States which will educate, inspire, and connect children in America to discover and experience the true Africa.

The Sankofa Children’s Museum of African Cultures was founded by Ghanaian immigrant, Esther “Mama Kiki” Armstrong, who is the owner of the Sankofa African & World Bazaar shop in Baltimore that sells African tribal art, ethnic clothing and assorted gifts.

Living in America for over 30 years as a U.S. citizen, Armstrong hopes to cultivate children’s interest in African cultures and encourage a love of learning of other cultures through play and other interactive activities.

“We feel strongly… that by empowering our children with the pride and respect that comes from the knowledge of their history and connection to their roots prior to the Transatlantic Slave trade, we would be making a major contribution to their sense of identity and self-esteem, and perhaps help prevent the negative behaviors that we see exhibited on so many different levels today,” she stated on the museum’s website.

“The mission of Sankofa Children’s Museum of African Cultures, Inc. is to build and operate a world-class living and interactive children’s African museum in Baltimore for the benefit of the Baltimore communities and all visitors that embrace learning,” Mama Kiki added.

In 2017, The Sankofa Team appealed for support to raise $22,000 to secure a temporary facility in the Baltimore area that will host the museum for a year. This goal was not achieved as the GoFundMe page only generated a little over $2,000 as at 2019.

However, the dream is still alive as the team is still seeking funding to secure a permanent facility that will be large enough to house exhibits showcasing four regions of the continent of Africa with each section offering the children various aspects of its countries and ethnic groups, states the museum’s website.

“The facility will have an elaborate and dramatic entrance that will involve dance, music and traditional dress that sets the atmosphere for the visitors to experience Africa.

“Securing a large space would also allow us to offer classes and exhibitions daily, weekly or monthly as desired. Besides using local talent, we expect to be able to invite skilled craftspeople from Africa to host and teach their wonderful skills in African drumming, wood carving, pottery, basket weaving, jewelry making, Kente and other textile weaving, art, dance, and cooking,” it adds.

The facility is also expected to lease space to vendors to operate African gift shops, bookstores, African restaurants, travel agencies, among others alongside an extensive non-circulating children’s library and a resource library for adults to further their knowledge of African culture.

“The mission of the Sankofa Children’s Museum of African Cultures, Inc. is to bridge the gap between the untold story of Africa and what is generally shown on TV or what little is taught in American classrooms,” it states.

This summer, the Sankofa Children’s Museum of African Cultures is preparing to open its doors in Park Heights, Esther “Mama Kiki” Armstrong told CBS Baltimore.

“We have to realize that the history of black America, for instance, does not start with slavery. There is a whole lot of history and a whole lot of civilization before the white men ever set foot in Africa,” she said.

“They might not even know that they’re learning. But we will introduce ideas and concepts that they could participate in, and thereby learn the history of Africa,” she added.

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