Nigeria’s cultural heritage in the news, June 2014

Two cultural heritage related news items emerged from Nigeria this month. Firstly, this article discusses the poor current state of three Nigerian museums. The title: Museums: Rotting Away Across The States unfortunately sums it all up. The National Museum Onikan in Lagos for example cannot boast of optimum maintenance and grapples with the issue of power supply.

Anytime there is power outage, visitors to the museum are asked to just hang around and view the cultural antiquities in the quadrangle while they wait for power to be restored at an uncertain time. When asked if there was no alternative power source to power the museum, a staff manning one of the galleries said “the operator of the generator was not around.” However, another staff debunked him, saying “the museum has no generator.” According to the curator of the National Museum, Lagos, Mrs Edith Ekunke, there are other challenges being faced by the National Museum which has pegged its optimal functionality, especially funding.

The Ford Foundation’s $2 million gift to the museum in 2009 (info) apparently didn’t help.

More positive is another news item (info), which reported that Mark Walker, great-grandson of Captain Philip Walker, who took part in the Benin punitive expedition in 1897, is returning two antique Benin bronze works in his possession later this month. Unfortunately the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the palace of the Oba of Benin are currently fighting over who can host the reception later this month, read more about it here. Mr. Walker is also bringing with him a replica of the war diary which his great grandfather kept during the expedition. I couldn’t find pictures of the two objects that will be returned; do get in touch if you can.

UPDATE: In the meantime the two objects were returned, read more about it here.

Retired hospital consultant Mark Walker (L) and Steve Dunstone (R), of the Richard Lander Society, stand beside a poster announcing the return of Benin bronze artefacts taken away during the British invasion in 1897, on June 21, 2014 in Benin City, Nigeria. AFP PHOTO / KELVIN IKPEA.

Retired hospital consultant Mark Walker (L) and Steve Dunstone (R), of the Richard Lander Society, stand beside a poster announcing the return of Benin bronze artefacts taken away during the British invasion in 1897, on June 21, 2014 in Benin City, Nigeria. AFP PHOTO / KELVIN IKPEA.