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Black Women In History Museum glows in Oyo

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Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III, being decorated as Grand Patron of OHF

The ancient city of Oyo was agog in festivity last week, as the foundation stone of Black Women In History Museum was laid.

Apart from promoting humanity and telling the African story, the museum will showcase to the world, achievements of African women in the past.

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Although, the foundation laying ceremony was planned, as a mark of honour to hold during the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi III’s 50th coronation anniversary by the Oranyan Heritage Foundation (OHF), it was not given the right publicity; neither did it attract arts and culture stakeholders. This, however, was to maintain the COVID-19 protocols of not allowing large audience in any event.

Despite this shortcoming, the Director of British Museum, Hartwig Fischer, and the former Deputy Chair, Board of Trustees of the British Museum, Bonnie Greer, who have shown interest in the project, were happy that it had become a reality.

Speaking on the project, Greer said: “I am fascinated by museums. I returned to the museum in the late 2019 by the invitation of the Director, Hartwig Fischer, to create and work with him on a project called, ‘The Era of Reclamation.’ Much of our work will be on the history of Africa, African peoples and people of African descent around the world.”

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The museum expert said Africa is one of the chief engines of the 21st century, adding that Nigeria will be one of the nations at the forefront of the continent’s advancement in arts and culture, as well as in developing the economy.

Enthralled that the museum is founded to celebrate black women across the globe either living or dead, he said: “A museum dedicated to the achievements of Nigerian women, past and present, a museum dedicated to African women past and present; a museum dedicated to all women past and present: all of these goals and more located in one museum, is an idea that I want to be a part of.”

According to Greer, a museum with scope, depth and reach like the Black Women In History Museum and based in Oyo town will be a groundbreaking one, adding that when girls and women are thriving, the family is thriving, the nation is thriving and the entire world is thriving.

When completed the museum, which lies on a 50-acre land, will have a state-of-the-art facilities.

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According to Lanre Olagoke, CEO of Lumin-Artica, the project consultant/manager disclosed that OHF facilities would have active digital life that is accessible to everyone in the country, as well as Africans in Diaspora.

He also said that the facility would be linked to international institutions, especially the British Museum.

Olagoke revealed that the museum will not be limited to celebration of women in Africa, but also women of African descent, who, by virtue of the past inhuman trade (slave trade), marriage or any movement, found themselves outside the black continent and have continued to contribute to the development of the places they are domiciled.

“Museum of Black Women in History will be dedicated to the achievements of black women across generations and beyond the African continent. It will also be connected to other museum across the world that archive women, especially those from Africa or of African descent,” he said.

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Speaking on the reason behind the project, the Founder/Chairperson of OHF, the Iya Laje of Oyo Kingdom, Comfort Titilola Orija-Adesoye, said her organisation couldn’t afford to allow her generation to wind up without leaving behind a befitting legacy that preserves “our heritage for the incoming generations.”

According to Orija-Adesoye, this spurred her to bring in experts including the African-American, Bonnie Greer, a former Trustee of the British Museum, and Hartwig Fisher, the Director of British Museum, to set up the museum, which while still at its foundation stage, has begun to draw national and international attention because of its focus on women.

She noted that OHF projects cut across hospitality home apartments, agriculture, arts and crafts gallery/cultural centre, and mother and child care centre, saying these are legacy motivated projects would not only boost tourism, but also contribute to the economy of Oyo and Nigeria in general.

Stressing that the Black Women In History Museum will add more value to the much-referred status of the ancient town, elevate community development, and the culture of the Oyo people, she revealed that it would, in a way, raise discussions on women.

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“These legacies will guarantee a more robust economy development, create jobs for Oyo people and those living in its environs, as well as the country as a whole,” she said.

Seeing the import of the museum, the Alaafin donated 50 acres of land to enable it house all its facilities. Not letting His Imperial Majesty go unrewarded, the Iya Laje of Oyo made him the grand patron of OHF.

With this, stakeholders in museums and archives look forward to seeing the project completed as soon as possible, to enable Oyo take its leading role of being the first to do most things and also for Nigeria to take the front seat among African nations driving development of the continent.

Speaking on the project, the chair, Council of Palace Committee, Archbishop Ayo Ladigbolu, called on Nigerians to emulate the Iya Laje of Oyo and urged men to give women opportunity to showcase their ingenuity in business, community development, politics, culture among others, saying no community can make any meaningful progress without women.

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