There is a need to upscale the National Museum in Lagos, the former museum should not be lagging behind in the telling the history of the country. Having visited the museum recently, many loopholes were seen based on the knowledge of the history of Nigeria by the writer.
In the Nigeria Government of yesterday and today, the only striking piece is the Mercedes Benz car in which the late General Muritala Ramat Mohammed was assassinated. In fact, the pictures in the room today more about the precolonial period and the military but the history of Nigeria from 1999, when democracy was reawakened, is not comprehensive enough. To say the least, there was no picture of the Federal Executive Council from the aforementioned period. History is getting lost gradually.
I would want to implore the Government to visit the museum and evaluate the contribution of leading players in the advancement of Nigeria. These people had contributed immensely to the Nigerian state but they are yet to be honoured, for every public space named after people, there is a history behind it. These histories need to resonate amongst the current and unborn generation, if we would be true to one of the lines of the national anthem, “the labour of our heroes past.”
In addition, we need to be consistent about the way we document. The immediate pictures of Post-colonial Nigeria had pictures of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) but the IGP and CJN of more than 20 years have been left out. The standard needs to be revisited.
The part of keeping the cultural artefacts is very engaging, this spoke more about our indigenous technology before now. However, there is a lot more that can be done to play up our history in the museum, for instance I was delighted to see Ere Ibeji from various Yoruba towns; this is a vivid depiction of the diversity that still exist in Yoruba land. In addition, I presume that there should have a film section of the museum where documentaries and films that detailed the history of Nigeria and the various tribes in it can be showed to visitors of the museum.
In my understanding around translation studies, there are certain words that cannot be translated into another language. It is of no use trying to translate our cultural elements that are not in English language particularly. We can describe it to suit the purpose of international guests but we must allow the Nigerian languages to take priority over any foreign language.
Equally, the cultural diversity of Nigeria is haphazardly touched in the history at the museum, for instance, there are certain areas that showed items from various cultures all lumped together, whereas a deliberately curated museum will go from one culture to another. By the time, the visitor is done with this cultural immersion, he would be the advocate of the museum and people would patronize it more.
Despite being located in Lagos, the history of slave trade was not told as much as one would have loved it. There is just a statue showing a chained man; we desire more history, some of these artefacts are scattered all over Badagry and other places. This part of the history of Nigeria is voluminous. In addition, all the pictures on the walls of the museum should be reproduced and well labelled. There is no need to strain the eyes because one wants to see the picture of Broad Street decades ago.
The need for an overhaul of the museum is very fundamental to the history of Nigeria because private individuals and institutions would source for all these items as well and deliberately curate a museum that will ‘kill’ the government owned museums. The National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMM), established by Act in 1979, should rise up to the occasion or await the takeover of museum by well-meaning organizations and they would just be a regulatory body.