Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cultural Heritage of Water

A friend invited me to attend a lecture at the National Museum of Lagos for International Monument Day and I am so glad that I was able to go!  This year's theme was The Cultural Heritage of Water in Nigeria.   The animated speaker and the lecture were both excellent!
We learned about the many festivals and traditions centered around water in Nigeria.  The  museum staff also showed a few of the African masks representing water spirits.   These spirits dominate many of the belief systems, local culture and art - even today. 
The water masks are typically worn horizontally on top of the head in order to replicate all manner of floating forms - canoes, fish, lizards, snakes and even hippos.  The mask below is held in the correct direction with the 'hat' below the creature.   
After the lecture ended, the speaker asked for questions and/or contributions. Various people stood up and 'contributed' to the speech by sharing the current traditions regarding water in their local villages, which was so interesting.   We were given water, cokes and muffins as our snack after the talk, which was nice and unexpected.  We adjourned to the parking lot to board the museum bus for our 'field trip'.  We were able to crowd 14 of us in this little bus, which is really hard to see in the picture below, since we added an additional person in each row right before we left.    
We journeyed to the Old Secretariat Building in Lagos, which is a British colonial style building built in 1906.  Today, the building houses the Federal Ministry of Justice in Lagos.  
I thought the clock was pretty.  The fact that it hasn't worked in years - just a minor detail.  :) 
In Nigeria, we are very careful about taking pictures due to government restrictions and fearful people not wanting to be photographed.  However, this group was a picture-taking-bunch, which gave me welcomed freedom to take as many photos as I wanted.  They even requested a group shot, so I quickly added my camera to the pile.  Basically this is a gathering of 5 oyibos (white/foreigners) and the museum staff. 
The Old Secretariat Building is a beautiful relic, but I'm not sure that it's been cleaned much since it was built. :)   The architecture was wonderful and I loved the pink bricks!   
Here's the official sign stating that the building is on the National Monument registry.   
The stairs were sturdy and beautiful.  Can you see the dirt on the walls and floors? 
We had lots of group pictures.  
It was interesting to see the many rooms which have been used for over a century.   Every office opens to the outside to capture the breezes off the ocean.   
The porch and ceilings have held up well over the years.  I liked this sign for the Director of Public Prosecutions.  
The fans were pointed out over and over again to us.  When the original fans stop working and can't be repaired, they just add another one.  To take the fan down and replace it would jeopardize the historical standings.     
These are old files from years gone by.  They were part of the tour, but I wonder if they would fall into pieces if anyone picked them up to view them. 
The library contained books dating back to when Nigeria was under British rule.     
The law books of Nigeria are also on display, but not very well preserved.   
It didn't take us long to figure out that we were a part of the 'tourist attraction' too.  It was funny.  The locals were busy taking pictures of us, and we didn't miss an opportunity to take pictures of them!  :)     Everyone seemed to enjoy it. 
This door has a natural faux finish - dirt!   I thought it was attractive though.  
The Deputy Director/Liaison Officer, Mr. Ateboh stopped working to conduct the tour and he was so gracious.  We were melting in the heat, so I know he was hot in his business suit! 
I learned so much today...both tangible and intangible.  This was such a wonderful day learning and experiencing the culture of Nigeria.  And ending it with new friends and lunch at the Lagos Yacht Club - perfect!!  What an experience!

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