Chimurenga Library is an ongoing installation and research project by Chimurenga, a Cape Town-based collective focused on Pan-African history and culture. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art commissioned a collaborative intervention based on this research that was presented at the San Francisco Public Library’s Main Branch from May 24 to June 29 2014.
The presentation comprised text, audio, video and library materials that explored the history of FESTAC ’77, the Second World Festival of Black Arts and Culture, held in Lagos, Nigeria in 1977. FESTAC featured a month-long program included visual art exhibitions, music and dance performances and an extensive scholarly conference featuring the major black intellectuals of the day. Four hundred Bay Area residents participated in FESTAC, and it remains the largest Pan-African arts festival that has ever taken place. Yet despite its epic scale and ambition, today the story of the festival is neither widely known nor well understood.
Chimurenga Library at the SFPL was designed to invite library visitors to reflect on what this event was, how it was connected to a local Bay Area history, as well as wider histories of diaspora, and what it might mean for us several decades later.
Click more to see images from the research and installation as well as an audio recording from a panel discussion that took place at the exhibition opening. Featured speakers included Stacy Hardy of Chimurenga, Andrew Apter of UCLA, and Akin Adesokan of the University of Indiana at Bloomington.