Adewole Falade is a cultural activist and passionate about multiculturalism. Her passion led her to earnestly collect, preserve, and promote Benin Republic’s cultural heritage and traditions for over a decade. She has been running Mewihonto association which aims to gather all the various elements, aspects, clues and pieces of information allowing to better understand how pre-colonial peoples and societies were organized. Since the start, the association has collaborated with scientists such as historians, anthropologists, ethnologists on the one hand and community leaders, traditional artists, and religious entities on the other. The association has accumulated more than 600 hours of filmic archives. Her association has produced around 50 cultural shows broadcast on Beninese national television. Besides running the association, she’s had multiple functions within the association from field investigator to journalist, or from project manager to co-editor.
Adewole graduated with both a Master of Arts in British, American and Post-Colonial Studies at Université La Sorbonne in Paris (2008), and with a Master of Arts in French Literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago (2009). Upon her return to Cotonou, she worked as a French to English translator and interpreter, as well as an English teacher for private and international institutions. Alongside, she undertook to partake in the artistic scene, working with musicians, actors, film and theater directors, as well as event planners in Benin and other African countries. Being part of the Repatriates Project provides a space through which new dialogues and temporalities come into place around the return of the 26 objects.
How would you define repatriation?
Not only does repatriation mean the return of artefacts to the people and communities they were abruptly taken from, but it also highlights the notions of national identity and pride, bridging the cultural gap for the young generations who have been deprived of the visual elements and memory they needed to create a collective imagination, and opening a world of possibilities where one can establish a more accurate dialogue with the past, where one is given the tools to acquire a better knowledge of past habits and customs and use that as a source of inspiration.
What does your work involve?
With my filmic background, I will explore how the camera falls into the new dialogue occurring between contemporary artists and old artefacts. I will also examine to what extent filmic archives can provide other dimensions and temporalities to the current heritage discourses surrounding the return of the 26 objects.
How does the project tie into your background?
As a cultural activist, I have been involved in the preservation and promotion of Benin’s cultural heritage and I have reflected on various media and methods to present it to a wide array of audiences. On different occasions, the field work conducted via my association made me an ideal witness and somehow led me to partake in the preservation, promotion, and cultural acknowledgment momentum. The Repatriates Project represents an ideal medium thanks to which new lenses will be used to analyze what really is at stake in the repatriation process.
Links to previous work
- Cultural TV shows:
- Mewihonto association:
- Article on how to teach cultural heritage to children: