By Tai Olaniyi
Most times the word “Museum” is mentioned to average Nigerians, especially those very religious, it is normally taken as a “no-go – area” and an assemblage of idols or/ and relics of idolatry worship typical of the ancestors of old.
Except for children on school excursions and foreigners, only very few Nigerians of adult ages take pain and time to on volition visit the museum.
Artists and exhibitors use the museum to showcase their artistic talents and oftentimes could be discouraged or disappointed at the limited number of people attending their exhibitions not minding that a lot of money might have been expended to get people to appreciate their works.
Son of Man cannot lay claim to having an update on what number of museums Nigeria as a country has, but I can lay claim to the very abysmal appreciation of museums and monuments to Nigerian’s national life and how trivial our government past and present take our museums and monuments as products of national average pride.
When singing the National Anthem and we get to the “Labour of Heroes Past Shall Never Be in Vain”, rather than ruminate on vain glories of the Nigerian political class, the rulers and ruiners of our pride as a nation, what reverberates in my mind and soul is the laborious labor of our artistic talents either quarantined or are itinerant in the museums.
I have been privileged to visit several museums and art galleries both in Nigeria and abroad, those belonging to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and also those of private initiatives such as the Arewa House in Kaduna, Yaradua’s Centre, Abuja, and the most recent, Herbert Ogunde’s Museum at Ososa, Ogun State including the Railway Museum at Jaekel House Ebutte Meta, Lagos.
As a Jerusalem Pilgrim, I know that many of the Holy Sites which are now edifices to behold were once the wreckage of ravages, monuments that house things spiritual and mundane. Pilgrimage to many, constitutes mere tourism to holy sites and invariably money-spinning ventures for countries regarded holy for sinners to visit and become holy.
Many of our national museums as monumental as they are in terms of content and context, are, in shambles thus requiring more serious-minded attention rather than bitter lip services by top government functionaries today.
The library in Lagos Museum which archives rich information about our historical past is just getting enabling to serious academic and research-oriented Nigerians.
The monkeys and elephants are feeling highly aggrieved because of the blight of famine at the Jos National Museum and Park. Like their monkey and allied counterparts, they are endangered species of God’s creatures in Nigeria.
Whereas average Nigerians may daily berate the museums but then they see nothing wrong in being worshipers of idolatry in money making from the wrong side of life.
As far as the Son of Man is concerned and earlier pitching tent with the year 2015 theme of the International Museum Day, ” Museums for A Sustainable Society”, this 2023 theme of “Museum, Sustainable Development, and Well Being” encapsulates the enriching meanings of what the museum should mean to us all.
I concur with a definition of the Museum as “nonprofit, a permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment of education, study and enjoyment”.
If testing the case, when you intend to visit Dubai for a honeymoon, Israel and Saudi for pilgrimage, a visit to the National Museum, the Railway Museum, or those private initiatives could make you a better Nigerian for the betterment of Nigeria and appreciation of God’s own country, Nigeria.
God Bless Nigeria.