Looted Treasure,Lost Culture( Ile-Ife as a case study).. Part 1

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Its funny how people think its the white men that brought us civilization,social development and sophistication..A lot of mis-conceptions that we were living on trees and running around wilth leaves on our waist,and the advent of the white men brought us hope…

Well if you’re in this school of though,you need to go back and fire your History teacher,and later sue him for mis information,cause the truth is this, people were already living and existing in Africa as far back as 500 BC. Well am not talking about just existing am talking about a race armed with the latest technology and sophistication…You can see this in the social interaction,the existing system of government they had established,the lifestyle,forms of art and craft that could be compared with early Greek existence or the dawn of civilization..

So who lied?

Before the intrusion of the White men (the Portuguese came first,then later followed by the British,french and the rest of the looting team) there had been a system of government,an organized set of people living and creating a pattern of life,not only for their present day but they had the vision of what the future looks like..Evidence of this could be seen with the great Benin kingdom,a Kingdom far developed and sophisticated that as far back as 1555 Oba Esigie of Benin had an embassy of the kingdom in Portugal. The construction of the Great Kano walls in the 14th Century,the same period the Great walls of China was completed by the Ming dynasty and so much as so on all these great developments happening all around a great piece of land. A place to be later know as Nigeria.

At these spate of developments around Africa,located in the Western part of the country..A sacred place,a well dense rain forest  lived a set of people far developed before their time..Ile-Ife, a city of about half a million, is situated at the geographical center of the Yoruba city-states. To the west lies Ibadan, the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa and to the east lies Ondo, gateway to the eastern Yoruba city-states. Ile-Ife is about two hundred kilometers from Lagos, which was Nigeria’s coastal capital city for over a century. In this place called ile-ife lived a group of people who were  passionate about their culture that they had a replica of what their lives looked like in art forms,Sculptures,bronze heads and other strange and amazing figures that its later discovery will cause much controversies and will also shock the world.
In The Pivot of the Four Quarters, Wheatley indicates that no place in sub-Saharan Africa has such cosmic significance as the Yoruba city of Ile-Ife.A city that’s being described as the cradle of life and also the city of the dead.  But also the people that lived in the great ife kingdom in the early century were mostly farmers, traders people who were professional’s in the creation of “Adire” ,sculptures and carving of bronze and glass carvings.., These people decided to pass down the legacy of their present life to the coming generations by carving down what they had into statues and burying or leaving them to be discovered later.

Leo Frobenius (1873—1938),the German ethnologist was one inquisitive figure whose several trips to West Africa, Nigeria and particularly ile-ife to come look for the Ori Olokun and some other artifacts  he had heard about. In November 1910, Frobenius arrived at Ile-Ife, the sacred city of the Yoruba, about which he had heard during his previous expeditions to West Africa. Leo was particularly interested to learn about the image of the Yoruba god of seas and wealth, OriOlokun, the equivalent of the Greek Poseidon and the Roman Neptune. On arrival, he set the local people to excavate in the sacred groves and within a few a week’s handsome collection of terracotta and stone sculptures was assembled, as well as the bronze Ori Olokun which he wanted so much to see.
Frobenius was astounded by the quality of the Ife sculptures; he observed that they were:
eloquent of symmetry, vitality, a delicacy of form directly reminiscent of ancient Greece and proof that once upon a time, a race, far superior in strain to the Negro had settled here.” To this he claimed the discovery’s were treasures form the “Lost city of Atlantis” a mythical city that was said to be washed under water hundreds of years ago..

Ife head bronze

The actual truth was that these carvings and others more discovered were created by a group of civilized, intelligent people compared to the monkey living human on trees as postulated by early western researchers.

As time goes on, the colonial masters and some researchers came and most of these treasures were looted and they found their way into private and National Museums in foreign land, depriving the people of its original creature the essence of what their culture looks life. Depriving them of knowledge, robbing them of their cultural pride and historical back ground.

A lot of historical and cultural treasures were looted away from Nigeria, Ile-ife here as the case study And today they stand in show glasses all around the world, being deprived of the value of the home country, examples of some of these great works of art and cultural strength was the Bronze head of Queen Mother Idia of Benin(The known face figure of the FESTAC 77 festival) which was taken away from the Benin during the early 18thexpedition carried out by the British force who invaded the Kingdom then, these and many more.

In 1896, the reigning Oni (king) of Ife, Adelekan, gave the then Governor of Lagos, Sir Gilbert Carter, three carved quartz stools which are sometimes referred to as Ifemarbles”. One of the stools found its way to the British Museum in London, one was taken to Barbados in the Caribbean but later returned to Nigeria and the third was eventually recovered from a steward’s quarters in Lagos in the 1950s by Kenneth Murra

The Ooni of Ife, His Royal Highness, Oba (Sir) Adesoji Tadeniawo Ayinla Aderemi, the Ooni of Ife. 1930 – 1980 ,with some of the bronze ife heads.

The Ooni of Ife, His Royal Highness, Oba (Sir) Adesoji Tadeniawo Ayinla Aderemi, the Ooni of Ife. 1930 – 1980 ,with some of the bronze ife heads.

The need for a country to possess its cultural and historical force is very important as against current civilization trends…These priceless art pieces  go a long way in giving pride and strength to the people of the country not to talk of the endless opportunities they present to the cultural and tourism sector of the government of the country.

What’s the government and private individuals doing in re-collecting back all Nigeria artifacts in foreign museums and private holdings outside the country? Most Nigerians outside the country don’t even know that these great works were taken away from their home country, most illegally.

The quest of tomorrow’s development depends on where we are coming from…The Identity of this great nations and most other African countries lie in show glasses thousands of miles outside the shore of the country

Without knowing our past, the journey for tomorrow is unknown…. #ASIRI

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