West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song at the British Library


A photograph of manuscript culture in Timbuktu 2007. Photo: Alexandra Huddleston Pinterest


Delve into the history and culture of West Africa without leaving central London at the British Library.

This ambitious exhibition showcases literature, faith, politics and music from Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and other nations from the region. Spanning the various empires of the Middle Ages through to colonialism, resistance, independence and modern life, there is a vast range of intriguing and informative items on display.

Highlights from the archives include rare pamphlets, film, textiles and manuscripts that detail everything from protest songs to the thoughts and ideas of leading West African literary figures and leaders. Of particular note is an annotated manuscript for a poem written by Wole Soyinka. Littered with doodles and corrections, it contains the basis of his famous poem Idanre, a work inspired by a deep mythological experience.

The guest consultant for the exhibition is Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, the writer and presenter of Lost Kingdoms of Africa.


Venue Details & Map

British Library

96 Euston Road
+44 (0)20 7412 7332
Public transport:
Nearest mainline stations are Euston or King's Cross St. Pancras. Tube: Kings Cross (Northern, Victoria and Piccadilly lines) and Euston is within 150 yards walking distance.

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