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Discovering Worlds: Africa

RAMM is uncovering new and important stories from the Africa collections as part of the Discovering Worlds: Africa project. This has been made possible because RAMM received a grant in 2016 from the Designation Development Fund and another from the RAMM Development Trust.

The people

Researchers have been delving into the past. Their work will open up the histories of some of our donors.

Many of these individuals served in the British Empire as traders, soldiers, missionaries and political officers. Through their experiences these tales will highlight the Devon and Exeter connection to Africa. Some examples include:

Henry Townsend was born in Exeter and became a missionary. He worked as a teacher in Sierra Leone in the 1840s. He also journeyed with former Yoruba slaves to their homeland in Nigeria and set up mission in Abeokuta.

Richard E. Dennett was an ivory and rubber trader in the Congo. He later went on to publish his experiences there. Dennett himself had witnessed the atrocities that had been conducted by a new wave of European colonials. As a result he campaigned against them in the British press.

Missionary James Bandinel was the only son of James Bandinel who served in the Foreign Office as Superintendent of the Slave Trade Department. Bandinel Jr. presented the museum with a list of curiosities that included rare shell bracelets from Bioko. The island of Bioko lies off the coast of Equatorial Guinea. It was originally called Fernando Po. This island was used by the Royal Navy as a base for anti-slavery patrols.

The objects

Scholars and members of the local community are visiting the museum. They are doing this to examine objects from former British colonies. This is because a small part of the collection has been accessed by the public. Until now, little of it has received fresh interpretation.

The items brought back by donors held significance for the people who made them. Some objects provide rare glimpses into commerce and culture whilst others show how some traditions continue today. This project will reveal many items that haven’t been publicly displayed before.

Discovering Worlds: Africa will explain why RAMM’s African artefacts are special.

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