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Regional News of Thursday, 11 November 2021


Nigeria-US sign MoU on Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove

Photo used to illustrate the story via Sunnewsonline Photo used to illustrate the story via Sunnewsonline

The Public Affairs Section of the United States Consulate General in Lagos, through its Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nigeria for the digital documentation, training and conservation for the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove.

The MoU was part of the launch of the new Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) grant to preserve the Busanyin Shrine within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove.

According to the ambassador, the signing demonstrated the United States’s commitment to partner with Nigeria to preserve its rich history and culture, adding that the grants program was administered through annual competition by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

‘The grants support the preservation of major ancient archaeological sites, historic buildings and monuments and major museum collections that are accessible to the public and protected by law in a host country.

‘Through the AFCP, the US Mission has partnered with the Nigerian government to preserve cultural landmarks and sites for over a decade. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, the United States is proud to say that we have funded projects worth over a million dollars across Nigeria.’

Leonard maintained that, prior to the project, the US Mission funded the conservation of the late 14th-Century Sungbo’s Eredo (ER RAY DOE) monument, the famed system of fortifications was designed to protect the ancient Ijebu (EE JAY BU) Kingdom in Southwest Nigeria.

‘Earlier this year, the $400,000 AFCP project was using three-dimensional laser scanning technology to generate a precise topographic map covering a thousand square kilometres of the area occupied by the monument. This 3-D map will be the most detailed map of any archaeological/architectural feature in Nigeria.

‘Today, we are proud to announce the launch of our 2020 AFCP award to digitally document and conserve the Busanyin Shrine located within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove. CyArk and its local partners were awarded a $125,000 grant under the AFCP small grant program to help document a series of shrines within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and provide training to local professionals to build capacity in digital documentation skills and cultural heritage management.

‘The Busanyi Shrine has been significantly damaged throughout the years due to extreme flooding. The 3D digital documentation of the shrine is the necessary first step to provide the most accurate record of the current conditions of the site to effectively plan a restoration project to increase the resilience of the site during a natural disaster or extreme weather conditions. This will allow for the Busanyi Shrine to remain intact as a cultural landmark for many years to come.’

He affirmed that through projects like the one in the Sacred Grove, the US and Nigeria were actively cooperating on means to protect Nigeria’s cultural heritage, saying: ‘We’re initiating new ways as well, including discussion of a bilateral agreement that would establish restrictions against the import into the United States of prohibited items of cultural property.

‘The agreement would encourage public and private cultural institutions and law enforcement agencies in both countries to work together on repatriating trafficked objects and fostering cultural exchanges. In this way, the US would demonstrate its commitment to protect and preserve Nigeria’s cultural heritage and Nigeria’s rich religious and ethnic diversity.

‘I am looking forward to many more opportunities like this to strengthen our combined efforts in the future and to celebrate our partnership with the signing of this very important document to launch the project,’ he added.