Of Africa


Open Now


Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana

The ROM’s new exhibition, Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana takes a historical and contemporary look at Asafo flags. These flags are the insignia created for the numerous military Asafo companies of the Fante states along the coast of Southern Ghana.


October 13, 2014


Re-live the Google Hangout! ROM curator, Silvia Forni, and intern Genevieve kick off the Of Africa project.

October 17, 2014


Friday Night Live: Africa Alive!

FNL: Africa Alive! Featured djembe beats from Muhtadi & the World Drummers featuring Amara Kante, music from Adrian X and Shi Wisdom, kalimba rhythms from Njacko Backo, and Afrixcan DJ beats from Davee Ki and Kwame Young spoken word from Mustafa The Poet and an interactive video installation featuring a virtual fashion collection from Nigerian Canadian designer Chinedu Ukabam.

Sunday, February 22, 2 PM


In Conversation with DJ Kid Capri

An afternoon lecture with New York’s legendary DJ and Grammy-winning producer Kid Capri in conversation with Combat Jack. Program presented by Manifesto Community Projects & the ROM.

July 18, 2 pm

Through the Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People

Film screening of this critically acclaimed documentary which looks at the ways African American communities used the camera as a tool for social change from the invention of photography to present day.

July 18, 11 am - 1 pm

Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Roadshow

Bring your favourite family photographs and share your stories!

1World1Family.me : A national project to connect communities and history through our family photographic archives. Hosted by acclaimed Director Thomas Allen Harris DDFR works along with Through a Lens Darkly to explode the myth of "race" and "racial difference" and demonstrates that we are all one people, with common aspirations, hopes and dreams for those we love and who love us.

July 18, 11 am - 1 pm

The Family Camera Project

Of Africa participates in The Family Camera Project, a pilot project aimed at collecting family photographs and oral histories from different communities in Ontario to create an archive of more textured and alternative histories.

Closed November 1, 2015

Worn: Shaping Black Feminine Identity

This stunning and provocative installation by Karin Jones, features a Victorian mourning dress created from synthetic hair as an expression of the artist’s perspective on African-Canadian culture and belonging.

August 16, September 20, October 18

Worn Dialogues: Gallery Conversations

Join us once a month for a personal exploration of the exhibit Worn: Shaping Black Feminine Identity and its themes. Special guest artists give us their take on this stunning work by Karen Jones in an informal in-gallery presentation.


October 24-25, 2014


Of Africa: Histories, Collections & Relfections

On the 25th anniversary of the exhibition Into the Heart of Africa - which revealed deep social, political and racial gaps between the institutional perception of what constituted the “museum public” and the actual complexity of Ontario’s and Toronto’s society – the ROM welcomes a reflection on different ways to present and interpret images, ideas, and histories from Africa and its diaspora. This symposium aims to reconfigure the museum as a place of dialogue and discussion that can contribute in affecting or changing our habits of thinking and seeing.

Read ROM curator Silvia Forni's blog about the symposium ►

Read a Toronto Star article about the symposium ►

Read a blog written by one of the attendees to the keynote with Binyavanga Wainaina ►

Thursday October 23, 2014

KEYNOTE: I am an Imaginer Riding Africa's Glorious Terrible Hurricane

Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenya’s best-known author, journalist, and winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing, explores how Africa’s peoples prepare to deal with the adventure, its pleasures and opportunities, of Africa’s hurrcane of change. This evening’s talk is also the keynote for Of Africa: Histories, Collections & Reflections

"Boko Haram and Booming Banks. Ebola and tumbling borders . Gays, lesbians, and a sexual revolution in wattsapp. Africa Rising: roads, tens of millions of newly banked citizens. A thousand new writers musicians, film-makes a yar. Africa rumbles, grows, suddened into a hurricane of change. How do black people, Africans Imaginers prepare our thoughts to deal with the adventure, it's horrors, pleasures and opportunities?

Let's talk about transport systems of dreams, desires, and thoughts. The political economy of romantic love, the avenues and streets of the metaphysical lives of people, and the architecture of the metaphysical lives of people, and the architecture of bodies wounded, re-engineering for a future with pasts unforgotten, with our future reimagined. It is a good time to be African."

Thursday October 23, 2014


PANEL 1: Learning from Into the Heart of Africa

Activists and participants to the controversy that was sparked by the exhibition Into the Heart of Africa reflect on the issues brought to the fore from those events and their historical, present and future relevance.

[0:00:00] Day 1 of the symposium began with Xerxes Mazda, the Deputy Director for engagement at the ROM welcoming all attendees to the event. In his remarks Mazda introduces the three-year Of Africa project, and acknowledges the pivotal nature of the events of 25 years ago.

[0:04:15] The symposium's Honorary Patron, the Honourable Jean Augustine, the Fairness Commissioner of Ontario makes brief remarks, her remarks offer an optimistic projection for the ROMs future contributions related to Africa.

[0:06:045] Two of the curators of the Of Africa project Julie Crooks, and Dominique Fontaine make acknowledgments to supporters of the symposium including but not limited to the University of Toronto, the Advisory Committee of Of Africa, and the panelists and moderators who would speak over the next two days.

[0:09:19] The first panel was moderated by Honor Ford-Smith, panelists included Afua Cooper, Geraldine Mariba, "Yaw" Oluwasanjo Akyeaw, and Dan Rahimi.

PANEL 2: Africa and the Diaspora in Western institutions

The beginning of the audio for Panel 2 includes a discussion with the panelists of the first session, along with others in attendance. Some of those you will hear speak were members of the Coalition for the Truth About Africa (CFTA) who protested the exhibition Into the Heart of Africa at the ROM 25 years ago. They are asking why no senior members of the ROM administration were present for the first panel discussion. Listen to hear more about the CFTA, their concerns, and the ROM's intentions going forward.

The analysis of recent exhibitions, debates and museum selection criteria brings to the fore the elusiveness and complexities of definitions and commitment to the presentation and representation of African and Diasporic art in European and north American institutions.

[0:15:06] Panel 2 began with an introduction by the moderator, Andrea Fatone, panelists included Kenneth Montague, Olubukola A. Gbadegesin, and Zoe Whitley.

PANEL 3: African Modernities

From different disciplinary and institutional vantage points, the panel challenges the ideological use of time when addressing African history, spaces and creativity.

[0:00:00] Panel 3 began with an introduction to the idea of modernity by the moderator Karen Kilbourne, panelists included Pablo Idahosa, Elizabeth Harney, Ato Quayson, and Fatima Tuggar.

Thursday October 23, 2014


PANEL 4: Canonical understanding and politics of representation

Analyzing historical and contemporary collections and discourses the panel questions the political dimension of ownership, canon building, and display.

[0:00:00] Day 2 of the symposium begins with guest curator Julie Crooks welcoming back everyone, ROM Curator of Anthropology Silvia Forni thanks some of the supporters of the program, and guest curator Dominique Fontaine calls the first moderator to the stage to begin the day.

[0:02:52] Panel 4 began with an introduction by the moderator Warren Crichlow, who questioned ideas of the canon, "authority", and the false dichotemy of art and ethnography. Panelists included Christia Clarke, Ciraj Rasool, and Ugochukwu-Smooth C. Nzewi.

PANEL 5: African curatorial networks

Curatorial projects originating from Africa highlight the global dimension of creativity and knowledge production and communication.

[0:02:52] Panel 5 began with an introduction by the moderator Elizabeth Harney, Harney announces the absence of one of the intended panelists, Dominique Malaquais, from SPARK who was unable to attend. Panelists included Meskerem Assegued, and Bisi Silva.

Performance by Nástio Mosquito: African, I Guess

  • The core of Nástio Mosquito’s work is an intense commitment to the open-ended potential of language, arrived at through deliberate strategies of reinvention. Mosquito makes music, performances, objects, and videos, under a range of monikers such as Nastiá, Saco, Cucumber Slice, and Zura Zuara. He adopts the role of postcolonial respondent, while also mocking the idea of any such imposed positions. He seeks to open up language, and therefore understanding, through a sometimes aggressive, sometimes nuanced collage of perspectives. In 2010 Mosquito worked with Barcelona collective Bofa da Cara to produce My African Mind, a stunning video about Western constructions of Africa, with a voiceover that floats along with a dramatic 1940s Hollywood style soundtrack. It touches on the ideological construction of race as a justification for colonialist expansion as well as the loop between Western aid, NGO industry, and the continued exploitation of resources. Mosquito was also a founding member of DZZZZ Consultancy services. He was recently nominated for the Future Generation Art Prize 2014, a major international competition that provides long term support to emerging artists.

  • View a similar performance to Mosquito's at the ROM.


Of Africa stems from an original idea of independent curators Julie Crooks and Dominique Fontaine. Since 2013, Crooks and Fontaine have been working with ROM curator Silvia Forni to develop a platform that would enable a more open and dynamic presentation of the diversity and creativity of the African continent. With Of Africa, the curators will present and promote historical and contemporary cultural and artistic production in Africa and its Diasporas to highlight issues that impact the present and evoke the potential of an infinite future.

This program is generously supported by the William Thorsell Forum Fund.


November 9, 2016
Royal Ontario Museum and the Coalition for the Truth about Africa Release Reconciliation Statement and Engagement strategy