Inside the African Museum at Zhejiang Normal University (Photos)

By Théophile Niyitegeka
On 3 June 2024 at 04:07

China and Africa continue to forge stronger ties built on mutual respect, and shared aspirations for modernization. Beyond economic and political collaboration, cultural exchanges play a crucial role in deepening these connections. The African Museum at Zhejiang Normal University in Jinhua serves as a vibrant testament to this cultural bridge, showcasing the rich heritage of Africa and fostering greater understanding between the two regions.

Located in Jinhua, East China’s Zhejiang province, the African Museum of Zhejiang Normal University is the only museum of its kind in China. It plays a vital role in educating students and visitors about the diverse and vibrant cultures of Africa, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the continent and the enduring ties between Africa and China.

Established in 2010 by Zhejiang Normal University’s Institute of African Studies, the museum spans 400 square meters and offers an immersive experience into African culture.

The exhibits feature a wide range of historical artifacts, accompanied by informative signage explaining their significance. From musical instruments and sculptures to household items, masks, and costumes, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of African cultural practices, history, and future prospects.

The Institute of African Studies, the first of its kind in China, has evolved to offer courses on economic development to both Chinese and international students. The campus hosts thousands of international students, many of whom hail from various African countries.

This diverse student body enhances cultural exchange and learning experiences within the university community.

Speaking to foreign journalists after touring the museum recently during the 8th edition of China-Africa Youth Festival, Prof. Yoro Diallo, Executive Director of the Center for Francophone Studies at the Institute of African Studies, observed that Africa-China relations are grounded in mutual respect and deep understanding of each other’s cultures.

Prof. Diallo noted that for some African students, the museum is their first opportunity to learn about their cultural heritage, as they may come from remote villages or lack access to cultural relics in their home countries.

He highlighted many cultural similarities and shared aspects of life between Africa and China, suggesting that such exchanges can lead to better mutual understanding and improved interactions.

Prof. Diallo also expressed optimism that a museum dedicated to Chinese culture will one day be established in Africa, allowing those who cannot travel to China to learn about its culture from home.

Zhejiang Normal University (ZJNU) was established in 1956. It is recognized as one of the first key universities in Zhejiang province. Currently, it serves a student body of 50,000, including 1,300 international students, and employs 3,000 faculty and staff members.

For the past 13 years, ZJNU has consistently ranked among the top 100 universities in China. According to the 2023 US News World University Ranking, it holds the 649th position globally and ranks 67th in mainland China. Eight of its disciplines are among the top 1% in the ESI ranking. The university has also developed a distinctive profile in educational research and African studies.

ZJNU has established cooperative relationships with over 280 universities and research institutions in more than 60 countries and regions. These collaborations include teacher and student exchanges, scientific research partnerships, and joint training programs.

Additionally, ZJNU has founded five overseas Confucius Institutes, one independent Confucius Classroom, one Chinese teaching center, and an overseas campus branch.