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U.S. awards $125,000 grant to conserve shrine at Osun Osogbo grove

By Waliat Musa
10 November 2021   |   2:46 am
United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, has announced the launch of the 2020 Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) award.

U.S Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Mary Beth Leonard. Photo/TWITTER/POLICENG

United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, has announced the launch of the 2020 Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) award.

The award will facilitate digital documentation and conservation of the Busanyi Shrine located within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove.

Speaking shortly before the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), Leonard said U.S.-based digital recording firm, CyArk, and local partners were awarded a $125,000 grant under the AFCP small grant programme to document a series of shrines within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and provide training to local professionals to build capacity in digital documentation skills and cultural heritage management.

She said: “Through the AFCP, the U.S. Mission has partnered with the Nigerian government to preserve cultural landmarks and sites for over a decade. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the AFCP, the United States is proud to say that we have funded projects worth over a million dollars across Nigeria.”

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administers the AFCP grants programme through yearly competition. The grants support the preservation of major ancient archaeological sites, historic buildings and monuments, and major museum collections that are accessible to the public and protected by law in a host country.

Leonard noted that the signing of the MoU demonstrates the United States’ commitment to partner with Nigeria to preserve its rich history and culture.

She said: “The Busanyi Shrine has been significantly damaged throughout the years due to extreme flooding. The 3D digital documentation of the shrine is the necessary first step to provide the most accurate record of the current conditions of the site to effectively plan a restoration project to increase the resilience of the site during a natural disaster or extreme weather conditions. This will allow for the Busanyi Shrine to remain intact as a cultural landmark for many years to come.”

Leonard said through projects like the one in the Sacred Grove, the United States and Nigeria were actively cooperating on means to protect Nigeria’s cultural heritage.

According to her, “We’re also initiating new ways as well, including discussion of a bilateral agreement that would establish restrictions against the import into the United States of prohibited items of cultural property.”

She added: “The agreement would also encourage public and private cultural institutions and law enforcement agencies in both countries to work together on repatriating trafficked objects and fostering the cultural exchanges. In this way, the U.S. would demonstrate its commitment to protect and preserve Nigeria’s cultural heritage and Nigeria’s rich religious and ethnic diversity.”

At the event were guests from CyArk: Director of Conservation Programmes Kacey Hardick and her colleagues, Chris Milbern and Avidan Fernandez. Others were: Prof. Abba Isa Tijani, Director General of the Nigerian Commission of Museums and Monuments, and Robin Campbell, Co-chair of the Management Committee of the Adunni Olorisha Trust.