National Museum of Unity: A Mausoleum for Nigerians’ Antiquity

Unity Museum, Ibadan

Seye Fakinlede

After days of careful thoughts, I decided to pen my experience at the National Museum of Unity, Ibadan, which houses a collection of forgotten culture; tradition and history as each compartment acting as some resting home for our once loved artifacts as well as fast-fading away identity and truth.

I found my way to the museum even though it was threatening to rain that Thursday. And it was quite easy to locate as passers-by and the bike man were maps.

Its environment was serene, only for some audible religious activity coming from a small amphitheater, adjacent the main entrance to the gallery. Soon, my tour began from one section to another with a plump beautiful woman who became my tour guide.

Museums are time machines and truth centres that can give you a different outlook, a change in perspective and a better appreciation of one’s history and tradition.

I discovered that…

The 2-3 hours movement from one segment to another was enough to re-orientate, learn, unlearn and re-learn a lot about Nigeria’s cultures, places, people, and traditions.

Although, the largest collection asides the musical instruments are the earthen wares for various purposes, sadly, most of these things have been regarded local, uncivilized and worst of all, fetish.

A tour around the museum indicated that Nigeria was once largely into the production of pottery, thereby appreciating every form of it. There is pottery for everything, like cooking, preservation, eating, storage, refrigeration, carriage, dirt, including special potteries for rituals.

Although, presently, few people are still involved in this craft as pottery purchase is mainly for decoration; and are no longer considered for utensils or any of the aforementioned usage.

The National Museum of Unity, Ibadan is built on the principle of constantly reminding citizens of the things that binds us together as Nigerians. Emphasis is based on the fact that sounds from the hides and strings are universal, no matter the region it comes from in Nigeria. And despite the different shapes, designs, size and length, they produce same musical sounds when blown or beaten.

The museum has a special stand to represent this called, “The Unity Stand”.

Also, I discovered that working in a museum or visiting one, has the tendency to help relearn and unlearn if you are open minded.

Remember the plump beautiful woman? Yes, she is an example.

She says, “I used to have some crazy ideas about our culture but since I started working in this museum, I have understood some things better …we have allowed our newly found religion to sweep our culture underneath the carpet.”

I guess this explains why people visit (and they should visit) historical sites not just for sight-seeing but to reaffirm or affirm a belief, be wiser , better informed and know what’s up.

The effigy of a onetime wealthy and scholarly Yoruba monarch, Oba Abimbola of Ijebu Remo was another discovery.

According to history, his regalia were made of about 7 million beads just to differentiate himself from the other monarchs. History has it that it took him five years to complete this rare robe. He was a retired policeman.

You would also learn that indigenous Nigerians have medicine for every ailment and solution for every issue even though many consider the processes fetish. From barrenness, impotency, child bearing, malaria, sickle cell, knowing ones path for life and the lists goes on.

Answers and solutions are either carried out by simple ritual dance, àwúre (prayers), ìwèréré (good behavior) or àṣèje (concoction) as directed by the deities when consulted.

Seye Fakinlede, Unity Museum, Ibadan

Tips when visiting the National Museum of Unity

It is very important to be open minded towards learning about the culture, people and history of Nigerians.once you decide to visit the National Museum of Unity, Ibadan. In case you consider visiting the museum for the first time, the following tips should help: The entrance fee is #200. Do note that pictures with phones are not allowed in the gallery. The museum is opened from 9 am till 5 pm.

Also, you should prepare to ask questions. The curators are very much open to answer all your questions, and they are sincere if they can’t answer any at that time.

Looking at how one of the major purpose of visiting is to have a bit of history, get writing materials or at least make an audio recording as you journey through the compartments

Final thoughts

The beauty of traveling to some destinations is to know, see, then listen.

The price for “civilization” involves trading then shaming some aspects of culture, tradition ,and crafts and no nation remains the same if these things are lost or abandoned.

But is abandoning ones way of life “civilization?

At first, I sincerely find this challenging because of the no picture rule (A rule in most museums) thinking of how best to relay a message but thank goodness I didn’t undermine the power of words.

However, you can always visit the National Museum of unity, Ibadan to see these bits of history, culture, and practices laid to “rest” . Perhaps then, you would see that they were once Nigeria’s and similarly Africa’s treasures laid to rest for new ways.

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This Article was first published on https://sasedotng.wordpress.com/author/sasaycom/

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