The U. S. Embassy in Abuja has announced a grant of 116, 000 dollars (about N36.6 million) through the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation programme, for the preservation of cultural heritage in Nigeria.
U.S. Embassy in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja stated that the grant would enable Nigerian cultural institutions to improve the storage areas for collections in 10 Nigerian museums.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the grant was signed between the International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), with Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria.
The Director General of the NCMM, Yusuf Usman represented his organisation while Catherine Antormachi represented ICCROM and Vice Chancellor Ibrahim Garba represented ABU Zaria at the occasion.
U.S. Ambassador Stuart Symington who witnessed the signing of the MoU called on Nigerians to take charge of preserving their past.
“Who is there to make sure a record is not lost or a memory is remembered and passed on? The answer is all of us … the universities, the museums, the people who do research, and those who tell the stories at home,” he said
He said, “the people of U.S. and the government were privileged to be with Nigeria to support the effort.”
“I don’t think I’ve had a single conversation in which people haven’t said, ‘I love the people of Nigeria,’ and when I asked what is it about the people of Nigeria that you love, literally every person that I spoke to said, ‘I love our cultural diversity,” he said.
The NCMM Director General commended U.S. Embassy’s sustained commitment to preserving Nigerian cultural heritage.
Usman noted past projects such as the restoration of the Kansakali Gate in Kano and preservation of Yoruba pottery at the National Museum of Unity in Ibadan were worthy of mention.
“This reorganisation project (RE-ORG Nigeria) will train staff from 10 partner museums to prepare storage facilities to accept new objects, preserve existing ones, and make artifacts available for exhibitions,” he said.
The statement added that in 2016, U.S. Ambassadors and Principal Officers worldwide submitted a total of 170 proposals for projects to preserve cultural sites, objects, and forms of traditional expression.
“Thirty-nine projects were chosen by the Ambassadors Fund, eight of those in Africa, including “RE-ORG Nigeria: Saving Museum Collections.
“The U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation supports projects in more than 100 developing countries around the world.
“Projects include the restoration of ancient and historic buildings, assessment and conservation of rare manuscripts and museum collections, preservation.
“It also include protection of important archaeological sites, and the documentation of vanishing traditional craft techniques and indigenous languages”.