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West Africa: A forgotten heritage revealed

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Monday October 19, 2015

From BBC News

West Africa: A forgotten heritage revealed
By: Vincent Dowd

With the days growing shorter, the British Library hopes to offer the perfect artistic antidote to a chilly London autumn: a tour of a huge chunk of African culture.

Word, Symbol, Song sets out to appeal both to Britain’s African diaspora and to people who have never visited any of the 17 nations involved.

There is no universally accepted definition of West Africa so, for the record, the exhibition covers Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Gambia and Cape Verde.

It’s quite a list, but curator Marion Wallace says diversity has been a strength, not a problem.

“West Africa is a dynamic and hugely creative place. We wanted to give a sense of what has happened in writing, in visual art and in music, right up to the present day.”

…Janet Topp Fargion selected the musical content.

“…I thought it was important to include music from contemporary female singers such as Angelique Kidjo, Rokia Traoré and Oumou Sangaré. They all sing about social issues which affect women and about human rights more broadly.”

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