O’dua Museum, Hall of Fame: Preserving a people’s legacy

Posted by: Our Reporter

on April 13, 2013

in Travels on Saturday

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The transformation was rapid and dramatic. Suddenly one was transported from the sophistication of a cosmopolitan high-rise building in the centre of a city to a rural setting more than 40 years ago.

Such is the transformation that one experiences on visiting the recently commissioned O’odua Museum and Hall of Fame in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

As the guard opened the wooden door with intricate designs to usher one in, the voice of the late Hubert Ogunde could be heard singing in Yoruba. It was as if he was just around the corner. As one climbed the staircase to the museum floor, one was no longer on the 20th floor of the Cocoa House.

One was transported back in time to the years gone by. What one felt all around was the African essence.

Both sides of the wall are decorated with batiks. A traditional African mat is rolled out on the floor.

The next point is the corridor with a signpost signalling that the museum is on the right, while the Hall of Fame is on the left. Museums, all over the world, always have special appeal. So, the first place to visit was the museum. Even before seeing some of the artifacts, the ambience created was purely rural: local mats used on the floor, red earthen walls, bamboo sticks used as part of the declaration.

The museum captures the totally of Yoruba way of life in the old days. Pots and bronze carvings of different sizes are displayed. The different kinds of Yoruba drums are also arranged neatly.

Appurtenances of royalty such as beads, horse-tail, crowns and walking sticks are displayed at the royalty section.

One of the most interesting section of the museum is the war section where old war weapons such as guns are on display. The treaty that brought an end to the Yoruba war of the 19th century titled Proclamation of Peace at Kiriji-Mesin Battlefield was boldly displayed.

Professor Wole Soyinka, who declared the place open early this month, commended the management of O’dua Investment Limited and had this to say: “The museum showcases the beginning of Yoruba technology and the ingenuity of our forbearers, but I want to say there is still more to do now that an appeal has been made to people to donate materials to enrich the arts, crafts and antiquities contents of the museum.

“Let me say that it is with a thought of nostalgia that I return to the Cocoa House and I must say I am very happy with what I have seen here.

”Cocoa House is one of those firsts Yoruba recorded in Nigeria. This area specifically used to be the centre of arts and Yoruba culture. But the negative side of it is that Nigeria once went into a downward spin, including Cocoa House and the University of Ibadan. The deterioration was much. Everything decayed and the famous Cocoa House could not save itself. But what we have seen so far impressed me, from the Ground Floor to the Top Floor of this building. This Cocoa House is the contemporary Oranmiyan staff for Yoruba.”

The curator of the museum, Mr. Babajide Famuyiwa, explained the reason behind the establishment of the museum: “ It is created to showcase the essence of the Yoruba people. What the Yoruba call Omoluabi. The Yoruba people have played a major part in the economic development of the country. They have helped in the development of every sphere of endeavour in the country. So in that wise, it was decided that we should look at these and bring them in focus. That informed the creation of the O’odua Museum and Hall of Fame.

“It is not only about the pre-colonial artifacts that are on display. Colonial era items that had influenced life in the past are also there. For those who may not have heard of gramophone, polaroid camera, type-writer and so on, they will find the museum useful. The museum would be a treasure trove for many young persons wishing to know more about the past.

“The Hall of Fame section is a kind of pantheon for Yoruba personalities from all walks of life. They include the late Professor Awojobi, Hubert Ogunde, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome Kuti , Rashidi Yekini and many others.

“A tour of the hall of fame and museum has an icing. One has an opportunity for a wonderful bird-eye view of the Ibadan city. There are also strong binoculars that one could use to view any part of Ibadan.

“There are two sections to it, the museum and the hall of fame. Let us start with the museum.

In the museum, we try to showcase some Yoruba artifacts. There are certain peculiarities with the ancient civilization in the ancient time. This is reflected in the collections we have in the museum. We have musical instruments, pottery, craft in terms of traditional weaving. What we try to do is to exhibit and display some of the things that the Yoruba used in those days.

“We tried to look at the concept of Omoluabi, that is, those who have lived according to certain Yoruba societal moral values and made remarkable success in life through these. We like achievements of Yoruba sons and daughters in the area technology, politics, sports, arts and many other endeavours. This is what have done.

“At the Hall of Fame, we have people like Professor Soyinka, the late Hubert Ogunde, ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo , M.K.O. Abiola, Rashidi Yekini, the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the late Chief S.L. Akintola, the late Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti and many others.”

He talked also about the media viewing centre: “The media viewing centre can take about 20 persons. The idea is that when people go round, they could come to see the video clips of some of these personalities on display in the hall of fame. They would hear there voice, see them in action through these video clips.

“The place is opened to everybody coming to the city of Ibadan. We encourage school children, university students, researchers and so on. It is open for now from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. We believe as time goes on, the management would consider adding weekends to the opening days. For now, the fee has not been officially sanctioned. It is not likely to be more than 200 naira per person. “

The O’dua Museum and Hall of Fame has succeeded in adding to the richness of the essence of the ancient city of Ibadan. Before it used to be the University of Ibadan and few other places.

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