A few months ago, I spent an afternoon with my children in the Africa Museum of Tervuren, near Brussels. Originally established as Belgium's colonial museum to celebrate the country's imperialist mission in Central Africa and to display a domesticated Congolese social ecology which had been tamed, exported and packaged to serve the twin purpose of educating Belgium's working classes about distant places and cultures on the one hand and of mustering a sense of national identity and celebrating the grandeur enacted in the colonial enterprise on the other. The impressive neo-classical museum houses the domesticated exotica of African socio-ecological life. The display of the main social, ethnographic and ecological niches of Central Africa as well as its economic modernization and contributions to world manufacturing and trade combines with the penetrating odour of mothballs and the nose prickling generated by decades of accumulated dust. The odours of the place recall, it seemed to me, both the nostalgia of lost imperial glory and the current political and economic disintegration of much of Africa.