Gold, Slaves And Ivory… Nigerian museum pieces in Germany
AT the exhibition of collections of one of Nigeria’s National Heritage Sites, the Durbin-Takusheyi, Katsina State origin, held in Mainz, Germany, the Director-General of National Commission for Museum and Monuments (NCMM) Yusuf Abdallah Usman stated that the event was a medium of cultural interaction, particularly of a national significance.
|Burial pieces of Nigerian origin in Germany|
He explained that the NCMM is in collaboration with the Romisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz, University of Frankfurt and Leo-Frobenius Institute in Frankfurt, Germany.
Usman recalled that in 1959, the site was declared National Heritage by the Nigerian Antiquities Department (now NCMM).
He noted, “after the first trench, no further excavation was carried out until a project financed by the German Research Council (DFG) started with new field work conducted in 1991 through 1992, by Dierk Lange, Gerhard Liesegang and Segun Opadeji.”
And in 1993, the report, he explained, was submitted to the NCMM and the items were first stored in Katsina, but then transferred to Gidan Makama Museum in Kano.
“Later they were moved to National Museum, Jos, Plateau State for permanent storage until their shipment to Romisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum, Mainz in 2007 for general conservation.
“Durbin-Takusheyi is very important to the History of Hausa land, because it is central to the development of political centralisation of the people and the emergence of Hausa Dynasty. Although the objects seem to be typical of the late medieval period of Islam, the faith as a state did not firmly take root until the late 18th century, after the jihad of Usman Dan Fodio who was a revivalist and whose crusade changed the political landscape, not only of Hausa land and Northern Nigeria, but also the rest of West Africa.
“It should be noted that early Homo and later anatomically modern humans have their origin in Africa from where they expanded across the entire globe. Out of every four black persons one is a Nigerian.
“The continent is also acknowledged as an independent centre of technological innovation: ceramics for instance was invented in Africa at the beginning of the Holocene. Nigeria was home to many of such centres where kingdoms and empires developed and flourished. Katsina was one such kingdom and Durbin Takusheyi, the sites where these objects were excavated is a burial mound in Katsina. The tumuli lie in a flat and undulating landscape, which is composed of granite hills and sandy terraces.
“The Tagwai, River and its tributary, the Kaita, flow northwards through this landscape into the desert in Niger Republic. The old town of Daura which is the origin of political centralization in Hausa land lies east of the burial site.
D-G, Yusuf Abdallah Usman (left), Gerhard Liesegang, Detlef Gronenborn, Mrs. Kasse, Falko Daim and James Ameje
“The objects excavated include pottery, grinding stones, iron spear heads, faunal remains, brass bars, bowls, cornelian beads, golden earrings etc. Locally, the burials are associated with the early Katsina rulers. In early twentieth century the then Emir of Katsina Usman Nagogo with the British Resident Sir Richmond Palmer authorized a test excavation in the largest mound and later in two others when no clear information about the history of the burials nor of their elevation was obtained.
“However no trace of any archaeological object that might have been excavated can be made today.
“For the modern day Nigerians, it is an important aspect of our cultural life. The objects represent technological excellence of the classical past. These are important as they shade more light on the technological sophistication of the people, and also the level of their cultural development and their way of life, especially in terms of community life, rites of passage and political organization.”
He stated that the people of Durbin-Takusheyi in particular and Nigerians in general are eagerly looking forward to coming into direct contact with these priceless collections. “They want to see these objects displayed in the National Museum Katsina as soon as possible for their education, enjoyment and enlightenment. Indeed, representation from Nigeria for this exhibition is not only limited to the professionals and researchers in the cultural heritage but also from the community where the objects were excavated.”
Nigeria, he noted, “is going through social engineering in all aspects of our national life. The NCMM is poised to play significant role in this transformation agenda. Our efforts to identify, conserve and present our cultural heritage will be geared towards this transformation project.”