Brazilian heritage challenge for NigeriaBy Tajudeen Sowole
Tuesday, 12 April 2011 00:00
Restoring the aesthetics of a decaying heritage, particularly of a national monument status in the heart of central business district of Lagos Island is a difficult task, which the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), must overcome to sustain the long history of cultural values between Nigeria and Brazil.
|Ilojo Bar or Casa do Fernandez house|
NCMM stated that the government, in 1956, listed the house as a National Monument. However, between that period and now, the state of disrepair has been given stakeholders in the culture and tourism sectors much concerned. In fact, the Olaiya family – though elated by the gesture of the government – were worried by what has been described as a state of abandonment ever since the building was named a national monument. Veteran Highlife musician and one of the heads of the family, Victor Olaiya had repeatedly called on the government to stand up to its responsibility on preservation of this heritage. With the attempt at restoration, these worries could turn to respite if the efforts of the NCMM and its expected private partners yield the desired results. The Director-General of NCMM, Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman, who led the delegation to the inspection of the building, in company of the architect in charge, Prof. John Godwin disclosed that the scope of the partnership in restoration was very broad such that success would be achieved in a short while.
He noted that an understanding between the owners of the house and government was the first and most important aspect of any heritage site. “Once the government recognized a site as national monument and the owners accepted, the foundation has been laid for every other thing to follow.” Even though he noted that the process of restoration and preservation would have been faster if the house were not occupied, the NCMM and its partners, he assured, would go ahead. He explained that the partnership involved the Lagos State Government and the private sector.
And sources had it that exclusive residential settlements – with distinct architecture – such as the Brazilian quarters in Lagos Island, parts of Ebute-meta and Yaba emerged from the efforts in the management of the conflict and reintegration exercise. Recently, the NCMM has taken steps, either listing monuments or embarked on restoring others across the country. One of such, for example, took place few weeks ago, in Amichi, a community in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State, where the commission was on a visit to the Reconciliation building as efforts towards naming the house a national monuments. In January 13, 1970, Chief Benjamin Atuchukwu (now late) surrendered his house to be used for the peace accord meeting, which brought the Nigeria civil war to an end.
Also, in Kano, an exhibition organized by the commission late last month was aimed at restoring the Kano City Wall, which was built over 900 years ago.