Friday, July 10, 2015

nana museum

Nana Living Museum gets century-old war relics
Can you imagine what the ancient city of Ebrohimi looked like before, during and after the invasion of the British in 1894? What of the Nana palatial residence, adjoining warehouses, town hall and the British warships? Take a trip to the Nana Living Museum Koko in Warri North Local Council Area of Delta State, and you will find many more, Assistant Editor (Arts) OZOLUA UHAKHEME reports. 
One hundred and 20 years after, some relics on the infamous British invasion of the ancient Itsekiri city of Ebrohimi in Warri North Local Government Area of Delta State have been donated to the Nana Living Museum in Koko, Delta State. The donations, which include vintage photographs of Nana palatial residence, adjoining warehouses, stores, town hall, four British warships, (Phoebe, Widgeon, Alecto and Philomel) were made by a former Commissioner in the defunct Bendel State and a frontline Koko community leader Chief J.O.S. Ayomike at a ceremony in Koko.
The items were courtesy of an Oxford University researcher, Julia Binta Mmeg. They were received by the Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Mallam Yusuf Abdallah Usman, represented by Benin Museum curator Mr Theophillus Umogbai and Mr Wilson Onime of Nana Living Museum.
The event brought back sad memories of the British invasion of Ebrohimi in 1894, and the 1897 British Expedition in Benin Empire that resulted in the looting of priceless Benin bronzes and deportation of Oba Ovonmramwen to Calabar where he died.
But, there seems to be more to worry about in Koko, home to Nana Living Museum where the returned century-old photographs are being kept for posterity. According to Chief Ayomike, the 21-year-old museum deserves greater patronage. He said a 40KVA generator donated by Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) at the inauguration of the museum in 1994 sits unused outside the museum and unconnected to the building because of old and decrepit wiring of the ancient building.
“So, the lighting of the museum is almost zero and this does not help the preservation of the ancient items within it,” he said.
He is also worried about the state of funding of the museum at a time the country is cash-strapped. “Now that our government institutions at all levels are cash-strapped, a way out should urgently be found to increase revenue from this museum. The state government and Warri North LGA should put heads together to take care of this museum, raise its profile through publicity and make revenue from it.
“So, they do about the same way the Mandela House in Johannesburg, Mahatma Gandhi’s House in New Delhi and such other places in the world. This is the only living history museum in Nigeria,” he said.
He decried the elimination of History as a subject from the schools’ curriculum, saying History as a humanity discipline is crucially essential for any society. He noted that History is the root of some disciplines such as museulogy, anthropology and ethnology.
“Even for Nigeria, still finding ways to develop, I am afraid leaders in government, universities, NGOs have to rethink this faux pas and restore History as discipline of study if we are to adopt social democracy as ideological progressivism in our development. Even Cambridge and Oxford, very old universities still teach History,” he added.
He also expressed worry over the sustenance of the pioneering efforts of scholars, such as Prof Kenneth Onwuka Dike, Prof Ade Ajayi, Prof Tekena Tamuno, Prof Fred Omu, Prof Obaro Ikime, Prof Philip Igbafe and Prof R.A. Adeleye.
A renowned historian and author of (The Merchant Prince of the Niger Delta), a biography on the late Chief Nana Olomu of Itsekiri, Prof Obaro Ikime, said it was not enough for the commission to declare structures or buildings national monuments, but that the commission must maintain and preserve such structures for future generations. “Your organisations owe Nigeria that duty. May God help you to perform it,” he said.
He, however, urged the commission to create more relevant monuments such that will document historical events on  how Nigeria’s first prime minister was gunned down in his official residence in Lagos in 1966 in Nigeria’s first military coup. “Nothing marks that house. What would it cost to erect a statue of Tafawa Balewa by that building, with a plaque at the base telling what happened? General Murtala Muhammed was declared a national hero. He was gunned down at a spot in Ikoyi, Lagos. Nothing marks that spot. It will not cost the moon to build a small monument there, with a plaque telling the story. Where was Col. Dimka captured? Is it marked by your commission?
Ikime who was represented by his wife urged the DG to lead in persuading the Federal government to create a national cemetery, which will become a national monument that will represent a slice of the nation history.
In his speech titled: Monuments as history, he said national cemeteries across the world are tourists’ attractions such as grave of Napoleon Bonaparte in France. On the non teaching of History in schools, he said: “We don’t teach history to our children-the only nation I know that doesn’t do so. While we, professional historians, keep struggling to persuade our government to make teaching of History compulsory in our primary and secondary schools, we can use the building of monuments to teach our peoples different slices of our history. I pray and beseech you, Mr. Director-General to give this matter your serious consideration. I will be willing to wait on you, if you so desire, to discuss the matter further,” he said.
Former governor of Bendel State Dr  Samuel Ogbemudia described the presentation of the photographs as an event that would inspire future generations to ‘magnify the exploits of their fore-bearers, noting that the museum is a monument to the vigour of a living people infinitely capable of resilience, renewal and creative adaptation. “Nana the great established an epoch. Ayomike and his peers are worthy baton bearers extending the Itsekiri race into eternity,” he added.
Director-General of NCMM Usman said it was worthy of note that the unfortunate outcome of the war would later provide the firm foundation for the establishment of the Nana Living History Museum. He said the efforts of the Oxford researcher and Chief Ayomike have further increased the awareness of the people of Koko community about the importance of the museum to the society and the absolute need to preserve it for the present and future generations.
“The presentation of these historical photographs and important documents today would help to boost the Nana Living historical monument as not only a museum but a nodal research centre in possession of vital historical and ethnographic materials for learning and development.
“As the custodian of the cultural and natural heritage of any community or nation state, the museum provides essential facilities for cultural education, entertainment and recreation through preservation, interpretation and promotion of cultural inheritance of humanity.
“Today’s event underscores this essential function of the museum. In no small measure, the National Commission for Museums and Monuments has helped the community and society in general in self fulfillment and sustainability through exhibitions, educational programmes, establishment of community museums and skill acquisition.  Interestingly, the Nana Living History Museum is one of such by-products,” Usman said.
He recalled that other donors’ gesture also bears close affinity and is in tandem with some other symbiotic synergies which the commission has nurtured with local and foreign organisations. According to Usman, the latest of such is the Smithsonian Institution/NCMM international exhibition titled: Chief S.O. Alonge: Photographer to the Royal Court of Benin, Nigeria, which is on-going at the National Museum of African Arts of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, US. The exhibition, he said, will travel to National Museum Benin City in 2016.
Munitions of war captured on the fall of Ebrohimi in 1894
• 106 canon, from 3-prs to 32-prs
• 445 heavy swivel blunder-buses, about half of them brass
• 640 long dane guns
• 1,151 short flint-lock and cap guns
• 17 cases of short swords
• 5 large swivel mountings for small cannon
• 10 revolvers, various calibrEs.
• 1,640 kegs of powder, over 14 tons
• 500 zinc cylinder case-shot, filled
• 500 bamboos cylinder case-shot, filled
• 1000 or more bamboo cylinders, ready for fillings, of all calibers, to suit the cannon
• 14 kegs small round shot
• 540 gallon iron pots of balls of various sizes
• 2 cases Snider ammunition, about 1,600 rounds
• 5 cases machine gun ammunition, containing 36 feeders filled ready with 43 rounds in each- 1,548 rounds
• 1 case, containing 5 empty feeders for machine gun
• 2,500 rounds solid drawn machine gun-ammunition
• 300 rounds Ely revolver cartridges, various calibrEs.
•source: Merchant Prince of the Niger Delta

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