Sunday, 29 April 2018

Heritage for sale... Like Nigeria's National Arts Theatre, outrage in India over Taj Mahal, other sites

Taj Mahal, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India (1653). Pic: internet.
While the controversy over Nigerian Government's proposed plans to sell some of its national asset, including the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos, is still fresh, India has a similar issue. The Indian government, according to sources tags its own policy 'Adopt a Heritage', a direction in which 95 historic sites, including the fifteenth century Taj Mahal could be taken over by private entities.
 Late last year, Nigerian Government announced plans to generate N311bn from privatisation of public properties and the sale of national assets to partly finance the 2018 budget.
  Already, reports have it that on Saturday, India's tourism ministry announced
a five-year contract worth 250 million rupees ($3.7 million) with one Dalmia Bharat conglomerate for the iconic 17th-century Red Fort in Delhi and another fort in the southern Andhra Pradesh state.
For the Taj Mahal, two conglomerates, according to READ MORE.


Sunday, 11 March 2018

How Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge, ‘Idejo Chiefs’ Sculptures May Emerge As Iconic Lagos Monuments

The Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, Lagos Island. PIC: Internet sourcing.
Despite its vast heritage, expressed in modern and contemporary monuments, Lagos still lacks an iconic spot to symbolise the city on the global tourism space.
 In public monuments such as architecture and art, a people’s history and value are expressed. Lagos is a city of mixed Gothic, Portuguese/Brazilian and postmodern architectural designs that have no space for indigenous contents.
    While cultural contents are almost non-existence in architectural works of most designs that dot a city like Lagos, art provides the ventilation for expression of the missing native values. However, on quite a number of the standing architectures, READ MORE.


Sunday, 21 January 2018

Here Comes Nigeria’s ‘First’ Textile Museum

...Nike Decries ‘Difficult Process’ Of Getting Tourist Visa To Nigeria
Nike Art Centre, Lekki, Lagos.
Despite volumes that have been written and voices loud enough on the importance of the creative sector’s ability to drive tourism economy, government still appears lethargic. But all is not lost, as Abuja’s tourism landscape is expected to receive a boost this year with a Textile Museum at the proposed Arts Village.
  It is, perhaps, the first of its kind in Nigeria where genre-specific museums are uncommon. The proposed facility is the initiative READ MORE.

Dallas, Cuba, Haiti perform at Abeokuta ‘African Drum Festival’
In its second year, African Drums Festival, at Abeokuta, Ogun State, Southwest Nigeria held the 2017 edition with more than 10 cultural  troupes from the U.S., central America and over 10 African countries participated. Among the cultural groups were those from Dallas, Cuba and Haiti.
Governor Ibikunle Amosun unveiling an 18-feet high drum
  When the event opened on Thursday, Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State unveiled an 18-feet high drum, acclaimed to be the “tallest drum in the world.” At the maiden edition of the festival, a 17-feet high drum was unveiled as the tallest.
  The African Drum Festival is designed to showcase heritage of the black race via a gathering of drums from different parts of  the world.           At June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta where this year’s event was flagged off, were READ MORE. ---------------------------------------------------------
Tradition, contemporary interpretation of Yoruba Monarch, Ogunwusi’s swapping of seat with wife

By Tajudeen Sowole

  A picture, it has been said, 'speaks thousand words'. Yes, but what has one second click of camera got to do with probing into the mindset of a young monarch, the Ooni of Ile Ife, Oba (King) Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi? He answer lies in conflicting views of tradition and contemporary behaviour. 
Ooni of Ile Ife, Oba (King) Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi with wife,
Olori Wuraola Zynab Otiti during a recent visit to Ghana.

The current Ooni has never hidden his desire for a shift in expanding the relevance of monarchy in contemporary African setting. As the 51st Ooni, coronated on 7 December 2015, he has since been in the news for all the change reasons that were hardly noted in history of monarchy sphere of Yorubaland, southwest Nigeria.

 The picture of Ooni Ogunwusi swapping 'position' with his wife, Olori Wuraola Zynab Otiti Ogunwusi confirms that the King of modern day ancient town of Ile Ife is somebody to watch, perhaps, READ MORE. 

Red List of West African Cultural Objects at Risk

Book Cover
After years of looting and carnage against cultural objects in Africa, which was made more pronounced by the 2012 conflict in Mali, a publication by International Council of Museums (ICOM), which focuses West Africa is perhaps a strong alert for museum managers.
  Titled Red List of West African Cultural Objects at Risk, and featured a Mali "Emergency" section, the publication, according to ICOM was made possible BY the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and the U.S. Department of State.

 The book aims to highlight READ MORE.
Furore As 190-Year-Old Monument Demolished 
By Tajudeen Sowole

If a designated, but demolished national monument, Ilojo Bar (Olaiya House), at Tinubu Square, Lagos Island were under the protection of UNESCO, its destroyer would be charged, perhaps, with 'cultural crime' at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Few weeks ago, a Lagos estate developer allegedly bulldozed the 190-year-old building to rubble.

Ilojo Bar during pre-restoration valuation in 2011.

Few days ago, the ICC jailed Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi 9 years for destroying a Malian cultural and religious site in Timbuktu. The trial. And conviction of Mr al-Mahdi, according to records, marked the first time that destruction of a cultural heritage site or monument was taken to the ICC.

  Tragic, colossal loss, are perhaps most appropriate words to describe the demolition of Ilojo Bar, right in the heart of Lagos, the city that contributes over 25 percent to Nigeria's non-oil revenue. And that the destruction of Ilojo Bar happened at a period when Nigeria was focusing tourism among its non-oil sectors showed the alleged estate developer's gross ignorance on how architecture, particularly of heritage value attracts tourists. 

 An Afro-Brazilian remnant of Nigeria's trajectory in Trans Atlantic slave trade link to South America, the one-storey building of Gothic architecture, Ilojo Bar, which was on No 6 Alli St. and No. 2 Bamgbose St according to history came into existence in 1855 (circa). Clearly, a great tourism content in Lagos has been pulled down despite governments' several efforts made to prevent the looming terror attack on a heritage value. 

 Provenance establishes that the house was sold by Fernandez family, in 1934, to Mr. Alfred Omolana Olaiya an Ilesha (in defunct Western Region) indigene. Given its heritage value, the then Antiquity office under colonial government, via Gazette 25 Vol 43 of April 6, 1955 listed the building among Nigeria's national monuments. From the colonial period till the emergence of National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), post-independence, Ilojo Bar has been under the maintenance of Federal government. However, restoration of the building's falling structures appeared to have been a challenge, as a result of what the NCMM said was paucity of fund.

 Sadly - coincidentally too - the destroyer of Ilojo Bar chose the 15th anniversary of 9/11 terror attack on U.S and brought the 19th century Lagos edifice to rubbles on Sunday, September 11 2016. The destroyer, an unnamed Lagos based estate developer, allegedly, in connivance with some members of the Olaiya Family killed over 190 years heritage by imploring bulldozer to demolish the building.  

  While members of the Olaiya family were said to have been divided over the status of the house, a faction led by Mr. Awobiyide, denied involvement in the demolition. The other faction, whose leadership could not be reached, according to sources that preferred anonymity "favoured commercial value for the property."  

  Irrespective of a non-UNESCO status of Ilojo Bar, the Director-General of NCMM, Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman  who led a team of government officials to the site described the action of the estate developer as a "dastardly act," that should be prosecuted. Usman argued that by virtue of NCMM Act. Cap N19 Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 2004," the commission will "ensure that criminal action is brought on the culprits." NCMM, he added, will "demand full compensation for the demolished monument."

Ahead of the demolition, the building, clearly, needed an urgent attention in restoration. In 2011, Usman led a delegation to the inspection of the building, in company of architect-in-charge, Prof. John Godwin. Then he disclosed that the scope of the partnership in restoration was very broad such that success would be achieved in a short while. It was meant to be tripartite efforts involving Federal, Lagos State and private sector. The process of restoration, however appeared slow, perhaps for lack of funding and other logistics such as subsisting residential and commercial occupation of the building.

 Should FG choose legal action against the developers or the factional side of the Olaiya family divide, the case could be a complex one. Compensation for the family when the building was gazette as a bational monument could be the real issue in a situation of legal battle for the soul of the space. Currently, there seems to be no evidence of compensation. 

  A Nigerian representative at UNESCO Prof Folarin Shyllon argued that when the house was declared a national monument, "government should have compensated the Olaiya family." He however noted that not being compensated was not enough for the family or anyone to violate the laws.  

A delegation of NCMM led by the D-G, Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman to the site of demolished Ilojo Bar national monument.

 And just in case FG fails to rebuild the house and rewrite the wrong, can any individual or groups take the case to ICC, given the Timbuktu precedence? "They are two different situations," Shyllon said. "Timbuktu happened as a result of civil unrest, but the Lagos situation is a commercial kind."

 Quite interesting, all of a sudden - after the Ilojo Bar was reduced to rubbles - it started receiving attention; floods of calls fro probity have been seen. But for decades, the house was not in the radar of non-governmental groups, except for mere status of being a national monument._

 After the demolition, a call was made on Lagosians, particularly, the Afro-Brazilans by Lagos@50 Committee to prevent recurrence. The committee noted that Ilojo Bar was felled at a time "when at least two foreign governments had committed in assisting with the preservation of Brazilian structures in Lagos and had begun its work closely with Nigerian preservationists."

 The Lagos@50 committee, which called for stakeholders meeting scheduled to hold in October at Freedom Park disclosed the format of the meeting, basically as "an appeal," to both Lagos and Federal governments "to adopt and effect a uniform policy for the Preservation of all national heritage sites and buildings even in the frenzy of development." 

 Irrespective of which sides of the sentiment on heritage and commercial values of the Ilojo Bar anyone belongs, decency was clearly missing as the building stood before demolition. In a Lagos central business district that attracts visitors from across the country and the rest of the world, the failing structure was not sustainable. Quite unfortunate, the NCMM seemed not to be getting support from non-governmental groups, apart from the backing of Lagos State that had kept the house standing for that long.

  Sharing the NCMM's efforts in preventing the demolition, Usman recalled that the developers had made several attempts that was foiled by governments.

 First attempt, he said was made in October 2015, which generated a meeting  with the family members led by Daniel Adewale Olaiya in  January 2016. 

 However, from July this year, desperation on the part of those who favoured commercial value increased rapidly.

 Twice in July, the developer was alleged to have made a failed attempt, leading to another meeting.  "Subsequently Tuesday August 16 2016 a stakeholders meeting was convened by the NCMM involving major stake holders including members of the Olaiya family, management staff of National museum Lagos, representative of Lagos State Ministry of Tourism and the representatives of the Brazillian Consulate, Benedita Gouveia Simonetti and Adeniran Arimoro." 

 Now that the damage has been done, the way forward, Usman assured - apart from prosecuting the developers - is the rebuilding of the structure. "We wish to assure all Nigerians that the Ilojo Bar will be restored as it is a fully documented National Monument with an up-to-date and comprehensive documentation of its architectural history and design details."

Jailed 9 yrs For Destroying UNESCO-Protected Malian Heritage Site
27/09/2016  04.14
Having pleaded guilty and apologised for leading destruction of 10 Malian cultural and religious sites, Ahmad al-Mahdi has been handed 9 years jail by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Haque. The judges found al-Ahmadi had shown "remorse and empathy" for his crime.
Ahmad al-Mahdi during his trial at The Hague.
“I seek their forgiveness and I ask them to look at me as a son who has lost his way,” al-Mahdi pleaded with the court during trial in August. “Those who forgive me will be rewarded by the almighty. I would like to make them a solemn promise that this was the first and the last wrongful act I will ever commit.” 

Regarded as an Islamist with link to dreaded-Al-Qaeda, al-Mahdi also quoted Quranic advice in his plea. “We need to speak justice even to ourselves. We have to be truthful, even if it burns our own hands,” he said. “All the charges brought against me are accurate and correct. I am really sorry, and I regret all the damage that my actions have caused.” 

The ICC had then pronounced him guilty and assured that the sentence will be confirmed on September 27, 2016 (today). 

  From June 30 to July 10, 2012 in Timbuktu, al-Mahdi allegedly led a group of militants and destroyed Mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Omar Mohamed Aquit, Mausoleum of Sheikh Mohamed Mahmoud al-Arawani, Mausoleum of Sheikh Sidi Mokhtar Ben Sidi Muhammad Ben Sheikh Alkabir, Mausoleum of Alpha Moya, Mausoleum of Sidi Mahmoud Ben Amar, Mausoleum of Sheikh Muhammad El Micky, mausoleum of Cheick Abdoul Kassim Attouaty, Mausoleum of Ahamed Fulane, Mausoleum of Bahaber BabadiĆ© and Sidi Yahya Mosque, all in Timbuktu. One of the monuments is a UNESCO Heritage Site.

Add caption

On January 16, 2013, the ICC opened a formal investigation in Mali over alleged crimes that occurred since January 2012 within the context of armed conflict in the north of the country.
On September 18, 2015, the court issued an arrest warrant, alleging that al-Mahdi committed the war crime against heritage monuments. 
  “We’re in charge of fighting superstitions, and that’s why we have decided to pull down this door,” Mahdi said in a 2012 video shown to the court. “We must eliminate from the landscape everything that doesn’t belong,” he said in another.
  Contrary to justifying his action in the video evidence out against him, al-Mahdi however regretted the destruction as he told the court he was under the pushed by “evil wave.” He added: “I hope the years I will spend in prison will enable me to purge the evil spirits that overtook me.”

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