By Nic Arp for Iowa Now 
Much of what we know about Western African history comes from the colonial era, when European powers controlled the politics and commerce of the region.
With its exhibition “Western Africa Before the Boats,” the African American Museum of Iowa, located in Cedar Rapids, is setting out to give visitors a glimpse of life in Western Africa in an earlier era. And the University of Iowa—known for its extensive African art collection and expertise—is helping to tell the story.
Christopher Roy, a professor in the School of Art and Art History in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Catherine Hale, the curator of African and nonwestern art at the UI Museum of Art, consulted closely with the curators of the exhibition and donated a number of items to it.