By David Lalong,in Jos
The city of Jos, capital of Plateau State, almost came to a standstill on 18th May, in celebration of this year’s annual observance of the International Museum Day, as some major streets were taken over by various processions of cultural dances en-route the National Museum complex.
As early as 7.00am the drums had already started rolling out and tribal groups began to gather where their familiar ancestral tunes beckoned them. By 9.00am the Hillstation Hotel junction became a no-go area for vehicles as pedestrian dancers from Tudun Wada area, as well the Joseph Gomwalk Road, virtually littered all available spaces they could find right down to the Museum.
A paper presentation on the theme of this year’s Museum Day titled, The Museum in a changing world: New challenges, new inspirations, was intellectually and comprehensively delivered by Patience Kolade. After an eloquent definition of the museum, the paper goes on to trace the history of the museum from the Greek civilization when they established the first recorded museum in 290 B.C in Alexandria, Egypt (Africa).
Kolade, while capturing the relevance of the museum in the 21st century, says they have ‘…come to play vital roles in terms of encouraging communities……..have interest in topical issues such as agriculture health, politics, education and conservation of peoples heritage.’ And tying it down to the theme of the celebration, Kolade advices that museum in the changing world, ‘must mirror events in the society hence, becoming instruments of progress….’
However, what constituted the main attraction of this celebration in Jos this year is the commissioning of some newly constructed traditional Plateau buildings in the museum, which were put up as part of a collaborative scheme between the community and the museum. The three buildings include: Kichia House depicting a typical traditional house of the Rukuba people; Awom Izere Palace, a typical royal compound of Izere(Jarawa); and Irigwe Compound, of the Miango people, all of Plateau State.
These projects will also boost the Museum of Traditional Nigerian Architecture (MOTNA) as a leading attraction at the National Museum Jos. In her brief opening remarks, the Curator of the Museum Carolyn Ezeokeke challenged more communities and stakeholders to come forward and partner with the museum in several ways to preserve the rich heritage of the country and reap the dividends of the museum.
Governor Jonah Jang of Plateau State who was represented by Hon. Sylvanus Dangtoe, Commissioner for Tourism, Culture and Hospitality as the special guest of honour, praised the Jos museum for maintaining high standards and sustaining itself as a flagship tourist attraction in the state. The Governor promised to maintain the cordial relationship which has existed for decades between the National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMM), as well as exploring new areas of partnership with the museum to preserve and promote the rich culture of the peoples of Plateau State. The Commissioner also unveiled plans for the staging of the state cultural festival later this year and solicited for support and cooperation of all communities and stakeholders. He thereafter commissioned the new projects flanked by some traditional leaders accompanied by dances from the local communities and inspection of some traditional cuisines richly displayed in the well traditionally furnished and decorated huts which could easily pass as exotic tourist accommodation.