The African Image Revolution: One for the History books
“I am prepared to reconcile with the ROM, but this doesn’t mean I won’t be critical of the institution’s actions where necessary,” said Brother Oji in a recent self inspired private visit. Yesterday Oji went to the ROM to see Dan Rahimi, Vice President of Gallery Development to discuss future possibilities.
The African community’s historical challenge of the ROM in 1989 – 1990 closed down the controversial “Into the Heart of Africa” exhibit and landed Oji in the courtroom and jail along with other members of the Toronto African community. Since then Rahimi has been the only ROM official to gain some level of respect from the leaders of the “Coalition for the Truth about Africa (CFTA)” that formed to close down the exhibition. His honesty and forthrightness in our 2003 CBC interview with Andy Barrie is with me to this day.
“The challenge of the ROM’s Into the Heart of Africa exhibit,” said Rahimi, “is the single most significant event that politicized museums around the world forever and museums will now think twice when mounting exhibits on any community.”
As a result of the CFTA challenge of the ROM, a community consultation process was put in place, a number of doctorial thesis have been written, a documentary film was made, more Africans are telling their own story and CFTA members have moved on to do great things in our communities in various countries around the world. This story is yet to be told.
More than 20 years since this historic action, Oji paid a visit to the ROM accompany by a friend (Kwame) and met with Rahimi who has expressed interest in doing some work with the Africentric Alternative School. This will give the ROM an opportunity to continue to make positive changes inclusive of all the communities their art represents.
Adisa S. Oji