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International Museum Day… experts call for another war museum, presidential library

By Tajudeen Sowole (Lagos) and Charles Coffie Gyamfi (Abeokuta)   |   28 May 2017   |   4:19 am

Akpen

Speakers at a forum organised to mark 2017 International Museum Day in Abeokuta have called for the establishment of another National War Museum in the manner of the one in Umuahia, capital of Abia State, and another Presidential Library in the country. They also called for the re-introduction of history into the school curriculum from primary to university level. The experts said this would acquaint the country’s young ones with what happened in the past, so they are better informed about choices to be made to chart a better path to the future.

Those who spoke were Dr. Edet Abu Solomon of the University of Calabar, Dr. Philip Akpan, Mr. Martins Oloja of The Guardian and Mr. Ayodele Aderinwale, among others. They expressed how regrettable it was that due to the neglect of history in the school curriculum, the young generation knew very little about the Nigerian Civil War and other historical landmarks of the country.

Others at the event were Mr. Chijioke Iwuamadi, Mrs. Constance Omawunmi Kola, Mr. Hamzart Lawal and Comrade Daminabo Alali Daniel. The programme was organised by the management of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) for Primary and Secondary school students from various parts of the State. Video and audio clips on the Civil war were played for the students.

In his keynote address, Solomon, insisted that Museum studies must form part of the school curricula at all levels of the country’s education system, “from primary, secondary and tertiary. It is the museum’s role in today’s society to promote public awareness by means of education with special emphasis on health, human welfare, climate change, environment, food and education. The museum collections are there to build story lines and insight into the various human problems in Nigeria.”

Solomon added, “The role of the museum to develop news or disseminate information via exhibition and public awareness campaign on national, pressing issues such as corruption, religious extremism and against the recreation of new Biafra will have great impact in the country’s sustainable growth.

“While the battle against corruption, terrorism, kidnappings, theft and vandalism to Nigeria’s cultural property rages, there is need to revive the museum system. I am a strong proponent against the menace of destroying our cultural resources, but at the same time I insist we should direct attention towards creating jobs, increasing revenue for the country and building our economic capacity as a whole using cultural resources.”

Solomon said it was noteworthy that past governments before President Muhammadu Buhari administration considered the diversification of the museums, but none had so much urgency as the government and leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Also, Oloja urged students to take the study of Mathematics seriously, explaining that the world is developing on technology.

He added, “In today’s world, we need people who will do what the Biafran soldiers did during the civil war. We need people to do a lot in the area of developing new technology. That is why I am advising you (students) to take your science subjects serious so that you can contribute to the development of technology in the country. In this 21st century technology is taking over the world.”

Oloja further recalled that during the civil war, Biafran soldiers were forced to be self-reliant through innovation as they created improvised war equipment to prosecute the war.

Akpan noted that Nigeria is a product of history, but there were contested issues surrounding Nigerian Civil War, pointing out that the museums through pictures, artifacts and books help set the records straight.

“Museums are very important,” he said, “they shed more light and give more information on historical events and they give the true account of what happened in the past through pictures, books, artifacts, weapons among others.

“We need more museums in the country to tell us the pains and gains of war because many people are beating drums of war in the country today. In fact, some people are already living in war situation. Records kept in museums can help inform our people that war is not the solution to everything.”

Also, Comrade Daminabo Alali Daniel, in his contribution, insisted that if Biafra had succeeded, “there would have been another war because the minority would have complained.”

He regretted that not much history has been written about the war and suggested that history should be a core subject from secondary school to university level.

The students were also conducted round the museum on the civil war located inside Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).

Earlier, Solomon had commended Obasanjo for establishing the Presidential Library, saying, “this strategic step would impact the economy in several ways, including increased tourism for Nigeria, as well as employment for locals through direct and indirect means.”

Also, ahead of International Museum Day (IMD) 2017, the increasing local and cross-border conflicts among communities and nations appear to have received the attention of museum managers globally. The International Council of Museums (ICOM) has announced a theme for the 2017 edition, which would focus on the role of museum-visiting culture in promoting peaceful co-existence among people.

Celebrated around May 18 every year, chosen themes had always attempted to promote the value of museums in developing the society. For Museum Day 2017, the theme, according to ICOM, is ‘Museums and Contested Histories: Saying the Unspeakable in Museums.’ ICOM established International Museum Day in 1977 to increase public awareness of the role of museums in the development of society.

This year, the theme focuses on the role of museums in such areas as “working to benefit society, become hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people,” ICOM states on its website. “It also highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation.”

Specifically, the world body explains the phrase ‘unspeakable in museums’, to mean themes that look at how to understand the incomprehensible aspects of the contested histories inherent to the human race. The theme, ICOM adds, “also encourages museums to play an active role in peacefully addressing traumatic histories through mediation and multiple points of view.”

Domesticating the focus of the IMD 2017 theme, ICOM urges museums and other cultural agencies, and institutions around the world to join in the celebration, with the hope that it “will focus on the link allowing for a vision of the future above and beyond taboo subjects and towards a better understanding of one another.”

Assessing the impact of the celebration on a global society, ICOM discloses that in 2016, IMD “garnered record-breaking participation with more than 35,000 museums hosting events in some 145 countries.” The theme was ‘Museums and Cultural Landscapes.’ It was reported then that for an hour, a night or an entire week, participants marked a unifying, universal occasion.

The event also led to debates during the ICOM General Conference, held in Milan, Italy, in July 2016. “This theme implies that museums have a certain responsibility towards the landscapes where they are located, to which they are able to bring their own specific knowledge and skills,” ICOM had stated then. “The main mission of museums is to oversee the safekeeping and protection of the heritage that lies both within and beyond their walls.”

At the Siena Charter – which generated IMD – the cultural landscape is proposed as “the country where we live, which surrounds us with the images and symbols that identify and characterise it.”

According to this vision, the landscape is considered as the context – geographic, historical, economic, social and cultural – in which museums exist and operate.

peakers at a forum organised to mark 2017 International Museums Day in Abeokuta have called for the establishment of another National War Museum in the manner of the one in Umuahia, capital of Abia State, and another Presidential Library in the country. They also called for the re-introduction of history into the school curriculum from primary to university level. The experts said this would acquaint the country’s young ones with what happened in the past so they are better informed about choices to be made to chart a better path to the future.

Those who spoke included Dr. Edet Abu Solomon of the University of Calabar, Dr. Philip Akpan, Mr. Martins Oloja of The Guardian and Mr. Ayodele Aderinwale among others. They expressed how regrettable it was that due to the neglect of history in the school curriculum, the young generation know very little able the Nigerian Civil War and other historical landmark of the country.

Others who spoke were Mr. Chijioke Iwuamadi, Mrs. Constance Omawunmi Kola, Mr. Hamzart Lawal and Comrade Daminabo Alali Daniel. The programme was organised by the management of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) for Primary and Secondary school students from various parts of the State. Video and audio clips on Civil war were played for the students.

In his keynote address, Solomon, insisted that Museum studies must form part of the school curricula at all levels of the country’s education system, “from primary, secondary and tertiary. It is the museum’s role in today’s society to promote public awareness by means of education with special emphasis on health, human welfare, climate change, environment food and education. The museum collections are there to build story lines and insight into the various human problems in Nigeria.”

Solomon added, “The role of the museum to develop news or disseminate information via exhibition and public awareness campaign on national, pressing issues such as corruption, religious extremism and against the recreation of new Biafra will have great impact in the country’s sustainable growth.

“While the battle against corruption, terrorism, kidnappings, theft and vandalism to Nigeria’s cultural property rages, there is need to revive the museum system. I am a strong proponent against the menace of destroying our cultural resources, but at the same time I insist we should direct attention towards creating jobs, increasing revenue for the country and building our economic capacity as a whole using cultural resources.

“Government of the day has a duty to come up with policies that encourage enterprise, particularly in areas other than oil such as heritage entrepreneurship, cultural-tourism, eco-tourism and business-tourism and the incipient carnival tourism in Nigeria.

“By mediating and expressing multiple points of view, museums play a role in peacefully addressing traumatic histories – while still sharing knowledge of the past and giving it meaning to help us understand the world today. Museums therefore become tools for teaching universal values and helping to create a common destiny among different, peaceful geopolitical spaces.

“In this kind of situation of general crisis in Nigeria, it would indeed be the role of museum to engage in critical and reflective thinking on its role in illuminating the past, through interpretation, exhibition, promotion and propagation of the values of our national unity and those things that undermine the basis of our society.”

According to him, “Developing Nigerian museums and cultural resources for economic benefit are inevitable because they can serve as investment vehicles.”

Solomon said it was noteworthy that past governments before President Muhammadu Buhari administration considered the diversification of the museums, but none had so much urgency as the government and leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He recalled that as the then Military Head of State, Obasanjo signed the decree that established the former Department of Antiquities as a full fledge commission, known as National Commission for Museums and Monuments, adding that Obasanjo’s resolve might have been fuelled by his knowledge arising from the establishment of Presidential Library whose bedrock is the establishment of museum galleries with high-tech information system.

Also, Oloja urged the students to take the study of Mathematics seriously, explaining that the world is developing on technology.

He added, “In today’s world, we need people who will do what the Biafran soldiers did during the civil war. We need people to do a lot in the area of developing new technology. That is why I am advising you (students) to take your science subjects serious so that you can contribute to the development of technology in the country. In this 21st century technology is taking over the world.”

Oloja further recalled that during the civil war Biafra soldiers were forced to be self-reliant through innovation as they created improvised war equipment to prosecute the war.

Akpan also noted that Nigeria is a product of history but there were contested issues surrounding Nigerian Civil War, pointing out that the museums through pictures, artifacts and books help set the records straight.

“Museums are very important,” he said, “they shed more light and give more information on historical events and they give the true account of what happened in the past through pictures, books, artifacts, weapons among others.

“We need more museums in the country to tell us the pains and gains of war because many people are beating drums of war in the country today. In fact, some people are already living in war situation. Records kept in museums can help inform our people that war is not the solution to everything.”

Also, Comrade Daminabo Alali Daniel, in his contribution, insisted that if Biafra had succeeded in seceding, “There would have been another war because the minority would have complained.”

He regretted that not much history has been written about the war and suggested that history should be a core subject from the secondary school to the university level, adding, “History should be introduced in primary to the university levels.”

The students were also conducted round the museum on the civil war located inside Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).

Earlier, Solomon had commended Obasanjo for establishing the Presidential Library, saying, “This strategic step would impact the economy in several ways, including increased tourism for Nigeria, as well as employment for locals through direct and indirect means.

“Nigerian society is undergoing numerous social disorders such as political unrest, religious violence, and the failure of our social institutions to respond to the challenges Nigeria is facing. Museums can engage in the promotion of freedom and human dignity as primary social values by engaging in information dissemination and education of the general public on those values that make social cooperation possible.

“Moves must be initiated to see private players adopt the various entrepreneurial services required in the promotion of such identified resources in the bid to develop the museums and heritage industry. This could only be achieved if the venture of adoption is made profitable in itself to parties that would be involved in the process of the promotion of the resources for tourism.

“Government must develop and enact the right policies, sensitise both the public agencies and the private industries to be partakers, directly providing funding for the initiative and by protecting both public agencies, investments by private enterprises and the tourists. Other attendants in the development dynamics are security management, and training in tourism business.”

He called on the Federal Government to ensure that “Security agents, the police, civil defence, customs and immigration services should be subjected to periodic refresher courses on the illegal trafficking and preservation of antiquities.

“The services of religious institutions should be amply utilised in educating the public on the imperative of preserving our cultural properties and not to destroy them. The mass media should feature prominently in public enlightenment campaign programmes”.

The students were also conducted round the museum on the civil war located within the presidential library.




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