The Governments of Brazil and Cuba as well as many international museum operators in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom have agreed to partner the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on the multi-million naira Oduduwa Heritage Museum project.
Oba Ogunwusi who disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos added that the more than N500 million museum would have their permanent locations in in Ile – Ife and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
He said in addition to its permanent bases in Ile Ife and Brazil, it would also have mobile features for it to be moved all over the world from both ends for the rest of the world to appreciate the Yoruba Culture as revered in Nigeria, Brazil, Cuba, UK and in Brampton in Canada.
He also told NAN that the museum project which would be unveiled at the Brazillian Embassy on Saturday would be a priceless investment that would boost the image of the country before the international community.
” UNESCO and the Government of Brazil are already in partnership with us.We are in talks with British museum, Canada’s city of Brampton, which has the largest population of blacks.
” Also, we are partnering with the Government of Cuba that has had a long term bilateral relations with the Kingdom of Ife, and over 20 other countries.
“We are partnering with the Government of Brazil through the State of Rio de Janeiro, the government of Cuba and others to achieve our aim” he told NAN.
The Oba said that the Obafemi Awolowo University ( OAU) and the University of Ibadan (UI)’sDepartments of History, Archaeology and Anthropology ,had been and would continue to be fully involved in the project.
“This project will give birth to a lot opportunities: socially, culturally, traditionally and economically for all Nigerians,” he told NAN.
The Oba said that the project being pioneered by the House of Oduduwa, would serve as the centrec for collection, preservation, , exhibition, and promotion of antiquities, treasures and traditional art forms of Africa.
“The Oduduwa Heritage Museum project which is priceless, has to do with the promotion of the ancestral lineage of Oduduwa people in the country and those in the Diaspora.
” A lot of work has gone into this; professionals and experts have put their ideas together to come out with a very detailed collection that has taken us over the years to put together”.
Ooni said that the priceless investment also would involve the collection of artifacts and antiquities for posterity and to promote and preserve the Yoruba culture.
He added that the House of Oduduwa had been working on the project more than 20 years before he ascended the throne.
According to Oba Ogunwusi, the international value and recognition that the project will attract to Nigeria has propelled him to continue with it since he ascended the throne of his forebears.
” We have rare collections of gemstones, antiquities and other artifacts in Ile Ife,and in Nigeria as a country that can never be found elsewhere.
“We need to collect them and preserve them because they were part of what our forefathers left for us and part of our cultural heritage.”
He said that there were other artifacts that had been taken away to other countries which we had been finding very hard to retrieve because they are littered all over the world.
He also disclosed that the largest diamond ever seen was taking out of Ife in the late 18th century.
“An artiste, Damien Hirst, once sold a piece of Ife golden head for over 110 million dollars and not a single dime entered our country.
“We have very ancient antiquities discovered from many places with some of our contemporary arts. One of our prominent art collectors got our display from United Kingdom and was bought for a huge amount,” he said.
The traditional ruler said that the museum would not just concentrate on monetary values but would also focus on the impact it would have socially, culturally and economically on Nigeria.
He said that the country is believed with several natural and cultural assets and very huge collections that are priceless and required international insurance for their preservation and protection..
According to Ojaja II, in the history of the entire black race which is the most populous people in Brazil are the Yoruba and that is why the House of Oduduwa chose to begin its partnership on the Oduduwa Heritage Museum project with Brazil.
He said that most people did not know that there were more Yoruba people in Brazil than in Nigeria, adding that over 100 million Yoruba peopl are living in Brazil while about 70 million are in Nigeria.
“All over the world our ancestral beliefs are still being practised, especially in Brazil and Cuba.”
“Through the Oduduwa Heritage Museum, the past and present pivotal roles and contributions of Yoruba people , Nigeria and the black race to civilisation and nation building in Africa will be better appreciated by Africans and the rest of the world.”
” What we can do is to display and continue to positively promote who we are: our past, our present for generations yet unborn to appreciate and be proud of ,” the Oba said.
The Ooni said that the project also would bring out the treasures of Yorubaland ancestors and by extension, Nigeria.
” Nigeria supplies between 30 percent and 40 per cent of gemstones being sold in Ireland and Hong Kong. We have a huge lot of it coming from Ife.
” If we train thousands of our youths on khow to handle these treasures, it will provide huge jobs for them, reduce youth creativeness and increase our GDP .
“We have gold in abundance and our ancestors had used the mineral resources and others to their own advantages in the past. We need to leverage on such opportunities for our common good.”
He added that several youths would be trained and be exposed to how they could refine such raw materials into commercial products.
He added that the advocacy museum would be commercialized to boost the economy of the country, as well as give the country and Yoruba people, a better image.
” It is about time for us to appreciate our own. It’s time for us to tell our stories ourselves,” he said, adding that would be the purpose that the Oduduwa Heritage Museum would serve to the Yoruba people, Nigeria, Africa and the world.(NAN)
Edited by Peter Dada