Author Creates First Children's Museum

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Imagination Afrika is a children’s museum on a mission to change the way that young people are taught. 

The founder, Karima Grant, was a children’s storybook writer before starting Imagination Afrika.

The idea for the museum came after the British Council in Senegal contacted her and four other women to do a program. Grant suggested having a storybook workshop where children from Senegalese schools in the British Council network would come and make their own books.

At first the British Council wasn’t open to the idea. They were not sure how students would respond to the idea. The program was an overwhelming success and the children enjoyed being able to create their own stories. Karima was inspired to start a Children’s Museum.

Imagination Afrika is aiming to set up the first children’s museum in West Africa. 

The mission now is to open a permanent learning center for children and for the museum to host its own exhibitions. The museum would also be able to provide classes for children and raise funds for its programs.

Grant hopes the center can be launched in November 2015 and Imagination Afrika has set up a gofundme campaign to help with the fundraising.

Imagination Afrika did not start out with a physical space. Instead Karima, with the help of interns as well as a financial and a communications coordinator, worked from her living room.  She focused mainly on children because they are future leaders, she says. She wants to help raise individuals who are confident and who are able to think critically.

“What saved me was this creative impulse and I think that we limit what we view as creative," she says. "It is seen as drawing or painting. Where it actually is the ability, being able to say 'Guess what? I’m moving to another country and I’m going to make a go at it.'"

Imagination Afrika then collaborated with a group of students to create an exhibition -- it worked with them for a year.

The students were taught how to film as well take photographs. With the help of IFAN, a museum of African Arts, the students learned about the process that goes into curating and creating an exhibition; they also learned how to conduct research.

The theme for the year was "the migration patterns of people between Mali and Senegal." To illustrate this the students decided on building a train that children could ride on. They also showed the film that they helped create. The exhibition drew in more visitors then the IFAN had all year.

Imagination Afrika hopes that with these tools they can change the way that culture functions. “My mission is about true democratic systems," Grant says. "I’m very clear that it’s about inclusiveness. I think what will tear a country apart is when the gap between rich and poor gets too big. That doesn’t mean poor don’t exist, or rich, it just means that there aren’t places that both can enjoy.”

Imagination Afrika has involved several schools in its programs. One such program is Marché Maths, which translates to "Math Market." Imagination Afrika uses what students are currently learning in math classes to create a market experience. 

Students sold and bought items from the market that they would see in every day life. The aim is to teach math in a manner in which children find interactive.  The schools now in the network include some of the best public schools in Dakar, the Senegalese capital; as well as medium level schools and schools in tough areas. 

Imagination Afrika has taken some its programs to other regions of Senegal such as Thies, Louga and Mbour. 

Photo courtesy of Imagination Afrika 



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