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CBCIU, Iwalewahaus partner to promote black culture, artistic enterprise

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor, Arts and Culture Editor
01 August 2018   |   4:12 am
The Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU), Osogbo is fast recovering the lost ground suffered during the years of interregnum (2012 to 2016) when attempt was made to change the leadership of the centre.

• Member, Board of Trustees (BOT), Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU), Emeritus Professor Michael Omolewa (right); Director Iwalewahaus, Dr. UIf Vierke; Chairman BOT of CBCIU, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; President, Bayreuth University, Germany, Prof Stefan Leible; Executive Director CBCIU, Prof Siyan Oyeweso at the signing ceremony of the MoU in Germany … on July 24

The Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding (CBCIU), Osogbo is fast recovering the lost ground suffered during the years of interregnum (2012 to 2016) when attempt was made to change the leadership of the centre. Tuesday, last week (July 24 precisely), CBCIU and the University of Bayreuth, Iwalewahaus, Germany signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a view to promoting cultural and artistic enterprise of the black world.

Primarily, the agreement, signed on behalf of the CBCIU by its Chair, Board of Trustees, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola and Director, Iwalewahaus, Dr Ulf Vierke, is for the purpose of executing the mandates of both institutions.

Inaugurated in January 2009 by the then Director-General of UNESCO, Koitchiro Maatsura, the CBCIU is a UNESCO Category 2 facility with major objective of promoting inter-religious and cultural dialogues as well as peace and international understanding among nations. The centre is also mandated to elevate black culture by focusing on its recovery, preservation, promotion and international understanding.

The mission of Iwalewehaus, on the other hand, is to research, document and teach recent African culture with a focus on visual arts, everyday culture, the media and music. Iwalewahaus provides space for lectures, conferences, concerts, film screenings and readings and is a vivid forum for artists, researchers, students of African studies and the interested public.

With the signing of last week’s agreement witnessed by Nigeria’s former representative at UNESCO, Emeritus Professor Michael Omolewa, Executive Director of CBCIU, Professor Siyan Oyeweso and President, Bayreuth University, Professor Stefan Leible, both institutes are set to collaborate better.

Apart from opportunity to cooperate more, the MOU is also a culmination of years of hard work by Prince Oyinlola, who played a leading role in the establishment of the CBCIU and who continues to lead it diligently as chair, BOT, to get back the photography archive of German teacher and anthropologist, UlliBeier. The German, who spent years teaching and working in Nigeria, played a vital role in the emergence of the Osogbo Artists Movement and was a close friend of Oba Moses Oyewole Oyinlola, the ex-Osun State governor’s father.

In fact, the terms of the MOU will delight scholars, artists and other interested parties as Beier’s long-held archive in Iwalehaus is set to return to Nigeria.

“Iwalewahaus agrees that UlliBeier Photographic Estate as contained in the inventory list (hereinafter referred to as UBPE) as it was handed over to Katharina Greven on behalf of Iwalewahaus and was shipped to Iwalewahaus, deposited with it by Dr Ulli and Georgina Beier, is the property of CBCIU under the leadership of Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as communicated to it by Mrs. Georgina Beier, and as affirmed by the Federal Ministry of Information and Information via letters communicated to UNESCO and made available to Iwalewahaus. Iwalewahaus agrees to transfer the UBPE to the chairman of CBCIU, for onward delivery to the Board of Trustees headed by Prince Oyinlola, who is recognised as the lawful chairman of CBCIU Board of Trustees,” read one of the articles in the MOU.

Another of the agreements is that both institutes will “collaborate for the purpose of staging exhibitions in Germany and Nigeria, while also cooperating to jointly stage programmes together at the locations of the two partners, or any part of the world. As the first step, CBCIU will host an exhibition with photography from the era of UlliBeier presence in Osogbo, curated by Katharina Greven and Lena Naumann. In return, Iwalewahaus will also host the CBCIU exhibition ’50 Years of Osogbo Art – A Celebration’”

Other terms of cooperation include promotion of educational, scientific and cultural relations; information exchange for the promotion of cultural ties and education studies, academic exchanges and evolving relationships that will strengthen ties between Nigeria and Germany.