Cultural heritage preservation: Nigeria and the United States ink Memorandum of Understanding

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The federal government of the United States and the state government of Adamawa, Nigeria, have inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to fund a cultural preservation initiative.

This information was made public on Thursday, concurrent with the US government’s announcement that 63 Benin bronzes have been returned since 2022.

In this project, which is being carried out with the help of a grant from the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the following entities are involved: the Nigerian Ministry of Arts, Culture and Creative Economy; Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria; the American University of Nigeria (Yola) in Adamawa; the International Council on Monuments and Sites—Nigeria; and the US government.

Since 2001, fourteen projects spanning twenty-one states in Nigeria have received $1.5 million from the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.

The Usain Bolt National Shrine in Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove was to be digitally surveyed and documented in 2020 with a grant of $125,000 from the embassy to the US nonprofit organization CyArk.

Adamawa State’s Sukur UNESCO World Heritage Site is the focus of the most recent initiative to record, preserve, and enhance the site’s cultural legacy.

During the signing ceremony of the MoU in Abuja, Ambassador David Greene expressed his pride in the preservation of culturally significant art, places, and other heritage artifacts, saying, “We are so proud that, with our Nigerian partners, we have been able to preserve culturally significant art”

“Our latest AFCP grant will support ICOMOS-Nigeria and its local partners to help preserve Sukur cultural heritage through infrastructure enhancements, revival of threatened traditional crafts, documentation and preservation of the Sakun language,” wrote the US Charge d’Affairs.

“It is with great pleasure that I observe your signing of the Memorandum of Understanding covering the planned project today. This will necessitate a collaborative effort amongst each of your organizations.”

“The bilateral Cultural Property Agreement was signed by the United States and Nigeria in 2021,” the ambassador went on to say. Following this, our combined efforts to locate, save, and return any cultural artifacts that had been plundered or otherwise displaced were stepped up.

Thanks to all of your hard work, twenty-two bronze medals from Benin could be officially returned to Nigeria in October 2022. The number has increased since 2022, and 63 Benin bronzes have been returned to Nigeria, which is an excellent achievement.

“The project aims at undertaking a two-year conservation and preservation work in the Sukur Cultural Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is regarded as a place of Outstanding Universal Values,” stated Hannatu Musawa, Japan’s minister of culture, arts, and the creative economy. In addition to bolstering the Sukur community’s resilience in the face of insurgency and climate change, this work also entails conserving the intangible and tangible heritage of the Sukur Cultural Landscape, building local, national, and international links and networks to preserve the site’s Outstanding Universal Values, and enhancing community capacity.

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