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    Preserving Cultural Legacies



    In an effort to protect invaluable cultural heritage sites, the Museum of West African Art (MOWAA) is spearheading efforts to equip Africans MOWAA by hosting leading West African archaeologists and heritage experts for the inaugural seminar, “Futures of Archaeology: Archaeology and Heritage Management in West Africa Today – Challenges and Opportunities”, in Benin City.

    The two-day event, which was held between September 12 and 13, featured experts such as Dr. Prof. Akin Ogundiran (Northwestern University) and Prof. Jonathan O. Aleru (University of Ibadan); Prof. Gerard Chouin, from William and Mary University; and Dr. Babatunde Babalola, a research fellow at the British Museum and the Cyprus Institute.

    This seminal gathering served as a forum for discussion with other Nigerian and West African institutions concerned with heritage research and management. MOWAA’s Head of Archaeology, Charles Le Quesne remarked that urban development and population growth are accelerating threats to archaeology and to traditional ways of life. Many ancient historic places, buildings and landscapes have not been explored, documented, or understood and are being destroyed.

    ‘‘It is essential to train a new generation of heritage professionals with the skills and experience to document, interpret and share their discoveries before the region’s heritage disappears entirely. The seminar will examine the scale and nature of these challenges and discuss solutions and the resources needed to address the problem.”

    The seminar also featured among others design workshops, with leading practitioners on MOWAA’s new Field School, which is proposed to provide hands-on training to students from West Africa and further afield and created in collaboration with local and international institutions.

    Besides, MOWAA is also in conversation with key universities in Nigeria and West Africa. Dr. Samuel N. Nkumbaan (Head of the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, University of Ghana) said that there are many technical and resource challenges plaguing the archaeological and heritage research in Ghana, as well as possibilities.

    President of ICOMOS (The International Council for Monuments and Sites), Nigeria, Dr. Oluwatoyin Sogbesan stressed the need for Heritage management practitioners to raise the standards of practice in the profession by identifying, documenting and preserving heritage with host communities.

    The MOWAA Institute, currently under construction in Benin City, will host the Field School once it is officially launched alongside other programmes within its centre for research, archives, archaeological fieldwork and archaeological science. It will contain state of the art science laboratories using equipment purchased with a generous grant from the Gerda Henkel Foundation. This will enable documentation and scientific analysis of material recovered from excavations across the continent, such as earthenware pottery, glass and metal, starting with those unearthed in recent investigations in Benin City.

    It will also be a focus for MOWAA’s heritage management services, recently strengthened as the result of a new agreement with the National Commission of Museums and Monuments (NCMM).

    Prof. Shadreck Chirikure at Oxford University, who is overseeing the development of the laboratories stated: “African scholarship is essential to narrate our past on our own terms. We aim to attract funding so more students can access MOWAA’s upcoming Field School and research opportunities.

    “Conservation requires sustainable resourcing. Proactive investment in preservation has allowed countries like Morocco, Kenya and more recently Ghana to build thriving tourism sectors that create jobs, attract foreign direct investment, and generate revenue from visitors eager to experience their history and culture.’’

    While Director of MOWAA’s Institute, Ore Disu, noted, ‘‘With proper investment and youth training, Nigeria can unlock benefits in research, community building and education, with wider implications for tourism.”

    Most recently, the world-renowned Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the World Monuments Fund visited the city to facilitate exhibitions within the institution that would share Nigeria’s culture and history globally.

    With breakthroughs in both infrastructure and professional development, MOWAA is strategically positioned to champion preservation and unlock heritage’s potential in Nigeria and beyond.

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    Traditional Ruler Extols Cultural Fiesta In London



    Traditional Ruler Extols Cultural Fiesta In London

    The Chancellor, Federal Universi­ty, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State and Chairman, Imo State Council of Elders, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, has urged all sons and daughters of Igboland living abroad to remain steadfast in supporting develop­ment at home.

    He also urged them to uphold the culture of the Igbo.

    Eze Ilomuanya, who is the Obi of Obinugwu in Imo State, made the call at the 9th Igbo Festival of Arts and Culture, which was held at Enfield, London on July 14.

    The 2024 edition of the festival attracted a large number of par­ticipants and guests, among them many non-Igbo and foreigners.

    The Igbo Festival of Arts and Culture is an independent cultur­al exposition that is held in Lon­don every year.

    Eze Ilomuanya, was elated at the tireless effort which the or­ganisers of the event led by Mazi Obi Okoli, put into “Elevate Igbo culture to international promi­nence”.

    He commended the festival which he said had been “helping in no small measure” to encour­age the younger generation to em­brace the values and tradition of the Igbo.

    The traditional ruler advocated for more “unity and understand­ing among our people”, assuring the Igbo abroad that the incidents of insecurity at home, which arose not too long ago is being combated, to ensure that Igbo people abroad are not hindered from periodically bringing back their families and children, es­pecially at festive periods, in an atmosphere of peace and security.

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    Lagos woos more for tourism, culture



    Lagos woos more for tourism, culture

    Once again, Lagos is extending its excellence in commerce to tourism and culture with a nine-day festival expected to woo thousands of locals and visitors alike to the city later in the year.

    The state, through its Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture, is collaborating with the QDance Center to host Afropolis Lagos 2024.

    The maiden edition of the nine-day festival will take place from October 26 to November 3, 2024 at the J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Onikan, and its environ.

    Speaking on the import of the festival at a recent Town Hall Meeting, Toke Benson-Awoyinka, Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts, and Culture, said that the event, which seeks to celebrate creativity and innovation, is aimed at transforming Lagos into a vibrant hub of artistic and technological excellence.

    “The essence of Afropolis lies in its ability to bring together a diverse array of creative minds. Imagine the vibrant fusion of traditional and modern expressions that will be on display, from indigenous crafts to cutting-edge digital art.

    “This melting pot of ideas and talents promises to be an unforgettable experience for both participants and attendees,” the commissioner said.

    Explaining the choice of J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History as the venue for the festival, she highlighted the historical significance of Onikan, which has long been a cultural hub, and hosting Afropolis here would be a fitting tribute to its legacy.

    “The J.Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, in particular, stands as a beacon of our rich heritage and offers the perfect backdrop for this celebration,” she said.

    The essence of Afropolis festival, according to the commissioner, lies in its ability to bring together a diverse array of creative minds.

    “Imagine the vibrant fusion of traditional and modern expressions that will be on display, from indigenous crafts to cutting-edge digital art. This melting pot of ideas and talents promises to be an unforgettable experience for both participants and attendees,” she assured.

    On his part, Qudus Onikeku, head of the QDance Center, explained that Afropolis would showcase the whole gamut of creativity as well as transform Onikan’s main street and JK Randle Road, into a lively arts and tech assemblage.

    Highlighting programmes of the nine-day event, Onikeku said Afropolis would feature among other things, pop up fashion stores, arts and craft market, live performances, street arts, street food, street vendors, music concerts, DJsets, master classes, meetings and networking.

    “The rest are talks and round tables, gaming, innovation, exhibition, children playground and urban culture display,” he said.

    According to him, Afropolis will also see a range of smaller break-outs as well as highly interactive sessions and master classes focused on topics across creative sectors.

    “It is projected that Afropolis will attract more than 1,000 creatives and exhibitors from Arica and the diaspora.

    “We also expect more than 20,000 visitors, buyers and delegates from Africa, the diaspora and the rest of the world.

    “It provides a platform for young talents to showcase their ideas, and stimulate economic growth for local vendors, artisans and global African creatives to showcase their product or services.

    “It will position Lagos as a hub for technology, creativity and innovation by leveraging the festival to showcase African advancements in art, tech, gaming, design, fashion and other creative fields,” Onikeku said.

    The nine-day festival will culminate in a curated marketplace over the weekend, where participants will showcase their local and international innovations and works.

    From a partner’s perspective, Blessing Azubike, senior programmes manager, CC Hub, one of the partners in the festival, expressed excitement being on the project, saying that her outfit is passionate about anything co-creation, which is what it is on board to do.

    “We will be serving on the technology component of the gathering,” she noted.

    Ajibade Adewale, group head, partnerships, Wema Bank, assured revellers of safety with their finances in the course of business transactions during Afropolis carnival.

    “We will ensure your transaction is taken care of digitally, we are also there to guarantee that your money is safe with CC Hub because we are partnering with them as well,” Adewale said.

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    China, Nigeria Commit to Promotion of Tourism, Cultural Exchange



    China, Nigeria Commit to Promotion of Tourism, Cultural Exchange

    The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Abuja has reiterated its commitment to promote tourism and cultural exchange with Nigeria within the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in order to enhance the two countries’ bilateral relations.

    The Embassy made the pledge at the weekend during a Seminar on “Promoting Culture and Tourism Exchange in BRI Cooperation”, jointly hosted by the Chinese Embassy, China Alumni Association of Nigeria and University of Abuja.

    Cultural Counselor of the Chinese Embassy, Mr. Li Xuda said that the embassy has always regarded promoting people-to-people ties between China and Nigeria highly because cultural and tourism exchange plays a special and important role in societal progress and national development.

    Li also added that the joint construction of BRI takes “Five Cooperation Priorities” as the main content: Policy Coordination, Facilities Connectivity, Unimpeded Trade, Financial Integration and People-to-People Bond.

    He said: “The people-to-people bond, one of the five cooperation priorities of the BRI, goes beyond culture and tourism exchange and seeks to build common understanding out of respect for countries and regions in its big family.

    “Both China and Nigeria are cultural giants with fabulous ancient civilization and rich tourism resources.
    “Since six years ago, China and Nigeria became close partners in jointly building BRI, which made our bilateral exchange even more in-depth and practical.

    “I firmly believe that our culture and tourism will be further promoted in the new stage of high-quality joint construction of BRI and some of our cultural gaps and exchange barriers will be bridged.”

    On his part, the Executive Secretary/CEO , National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Otunba Biodun Ajiboye, expressed gratitude to the Chinese government for their continuous support in developing Nigeria’s culture and tourism sector.

    He noted that Nigeria has a large wealth of natural and cultural attractions ranging from stunning landscapes of its national parks to the historic landmarks and vibrant cities that tell the story of the nation.

    He said: “We must therefore leverage the BRI to enhance our tourism infrastructure, promote sustainable tourism practices, and create unique cultural experiences for visitors.

    “By doing so, we can attract more tourists, generate revenue, and create jobs while preserving and celebrating our cultural heritage.

    “We will work closely with our Chinese counterparts to develop joint projects, exchange programmes and collaborative initiatives that have mutual benefits for both countries.”

    The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in more than 150 countries and international organisations.

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