Specifically, on Tuesday, September 25th 2018, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the provision of $125,000 grant to promote Nigeria’s rock art.
The project funded by the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation seeks to create awareness on importance of rock arts and ensure proper documentation, provision of basic infrastructure and its preservation.
The MoU was jointly signed by the U.S., Trust for African Rock Art (TARA), National Commission for Monuments and Museums (NCMM), University of Calabar (UNICAL) and Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Stuart Symington, said that the signing of the MoU marked a turning point for some of the rock art that Nigeria is endowed with.
Symington said: “what we want to do is to make sure that the Nigeria’s patrimony and the extraordinary museum collections are cumulated by people who know everything about museums.
“This is to enable people see what has been done overtime; so that we can capture the whole of history about people and the society.
“We are celebrating something that unites Nigerians from Calabar to Zaria and beyond; we are not the first to be here and by God’s grace we will not be the last.
“By the time we are bound together in this planet, we stand the chance to make historical marks and that is what this cultural preservation is all about.”
Speaking, Mr Abdulkerim Kadiri, Acting Director-General of NCMM, said that the MoU would boost interventions through partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
He said that such partnership meant to preserve the heritage monolith and other artifacts would further enhance the preservation of the nation’s cultural heritage.
According to him, the funding is apt because it is in line with the Federal Government’s 6 point agenda for diversification of the nation’s economy from crude oil and gas.
Kadiri said that “government is currently using revenues derived from oil and gas to diversify the economy into agriculture, solid minerals and tourism.
“National Commission for Museums and Monuments being key player in the nation’s tourism sector is saddled with the responsibility of collecting, preserving and exhibiting our cultural heritage, tangible and intangible cultural assets which is our national patrimony.
“We do archaeological excavations; we research into them and use them for educational purposes, entertain foreigners who visit our country, by so doing, we play key role in developing Nigeria’s tourism.”
Also, the Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Ibrahim Garba, said that apart from the promotion and preservation of cultural heritage, more should be done to engage the youth in the process to ensure sustainability.
According to him, the lack of knowledge about history often hinders nation building process.
Garba said “we live in a world that is bombarded by things which are not historical. In fact it is so regrettable that we stopped teaching history in Secondary Schools.
“As such people gain admission into University level without knowing a bit of their history and thereby not knowing the past shaped us into our present form as a country.”
In a remark, the Vice Chancellor of University of Calabar, Prof. Zana Akpagu, called for more investment in the development of cultural artifact to promote nation building.
Akpagu, represented by Prof. Stella Effah-Attoe, a Professor of History in University of Calabar, said although Cross River State is endowed with stone culture, more should be done to harness its potentials.
“We have stone culture and even when some studies have been done, it has never been internationalized and this is the first time the project has been given attention.
“If that is done, it will help to enhance the reconstruction of not just the history of Cross River State, but the history of Nigeria,” Akpagu said.
Also speaking, the representative of TARA, Mr Tara Little, said there are 100 sites of rock art across 20 countries on the organisation’s data base.
He noted that the project is not just targeted on preservation of the Nigeria’s cultural heritage, but also the heritage of humanity.
“We put the project together to ensure proper documentation and preservation of some basic cultural arts infrastructure through engagement with host communities, in efforts to promote mutual benefits.
“The initiative involves cultural exhibition and travelling to national museums to build network on the promotion of cultural preservation across the country,” Little said.
ORIGINAL SOURCE: By Hauwa Amali/Fortune Abang (NAN)