Recovering from a welcome- back- hope- you- enjoyed- your- illnessless- holiday gastroenteritis, we decided to take it easy and not venture out of Libreville. It was Saturday, and a potentially boring one, but this time we were in luck: celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence, Libreville decided to finally offer a cultural event - yesterday we visited the grand exhibition under an even grand-er title Gabon: Ma Terre, Mon Futur (Gabon: My Land, My Future). And, contrary to what you might suspect from the slightly ironic tone of this introduction, we were not disappointed. Quite the contrary, actually - we were rather impressed.
The exhibition is divided into six thematic rooms: Le Jardin des Origines (The Garden of Origins), Le Patrimoine des Cultures (The Heritage of Cultures), Designed by Nature (believe it or not, in English it stands), Regards sur le Passé (Looking at the Past), La République Ciquantenaire (The Fifty-Year-Old Republic) and La Nouvelle Ere (The New Era). Each of these spaces was professionally designed and equipped on a European level.
There is a large room with a flat screen, where you can watch a film on the origins of the Earth. Prehistoric tools are displayed and, more importantly, provided with exhaustive explanations (very rare in Gabon). Several museum exhibits, such as masks and traditional tools, were brought in, together with touchscreens, which show films of traditional dances. Pictures of the colonial era are displayed as a kind of installation - much more interesting than just hanging them on the walls. And the nature room is just lovely: all three Gabonese ecosystems are presented, together with a lot of information and still more touchscreens. A nice gentleman, the boss of the nature space, was very helpful and explained a lot. Only the Independence part, where the government boasts of its dubious achievements, made us want to press a "dislike" button.
All this is packaged in a really superb way: colourful, diverse, touchable... Istead of a guestbook - an ingenious pink plastic tree, on which you stick yellow post-its with your impressions. And right next to the exhibition - a handicraft market. All in all - well done Gabon! We loved the exhibition and are really looking forward to more events of the kind!
Technical info: the exhibition is located on the Gabon Expo grounds, right next to Port Môle, and it's free. The handicraft market is not your regular Village Artesanal, and it's definitely worth taking a look at. Of course, pictures strictly forbidden.