By Dr. Yousif Hasan Madani,
Head of the Department of Folklore, University of Khartoum
Museums should teach citizens about the social and economic realities of their environment. This includes exposing people to knowledge unavailable at other official institutions. In Africa, museums are places where knowledge about the country's history and its contemporary culture is exchanged. This makes knowledge available to everyone. The museum plays a fundamental role by explaining history and its events, and showcasing the creativity of its people.
Education is always built on establishing trust between the person who knows and the one who does not know. In museums, education is built on:
- Direct experiences that explain history in its original context. Museums provide a reproduction of the social, economic, political and natural components of the place within their historical context.
- The ability to assess and analyse
- Mental flexibility and the ability to think critically. For example, axes around the world were the same shape, whether in Java, Beijing, Singah or Central Europe, although there were no means for the people in these places to communicate during the Stone Age. This shows the universality of the human mind, so we should not assume that certain people are higher or lower in the social hierarchy. To elaborate, we can also say that this reflects the oneness of God.
In a museum, the exhibits encourage people to ask questions. So a museum is an educational institution that develops the human ability to exchange ideas and share knowledge about various sectors. It is a place where ideas and expertise can be exchanged because it uses multiple forms of communication, including audio-visual materials, music, and scent. It provides an effective means for interactive and direct learning. It is a place where the official learning institution is redefined. It provides an education to all ages, genders and segments of society.
On the Internet, I have come across material that promotes traditional industry. Traditional industries play an important role in societal development by helping to achieve the following objectives:
- Increasing the income of rural, Bedouin, mountain and coastal societies of shepherds and farmers, whose lives depend on a subsistence economy such as foodstuffs, furniture or traditional architecture.
- Enhancing self-reliance, because traditional industries depend on the availability of raw materials and knowledge of local components.
- Supporting and promoting social stability by encouraging the most needy social classes to pay attention to traditional industries, thus helping to reduce the gaps among various social classes.
- Providing employment opportunities to women, who, due to certain conditions, may not have many other job opportunities in the public sector. Home-based industries are one example.