From Igbo-Ukwu Museum… With Tears

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The Igbo-Ukwu museum in Anambra state is supposed to be one of the leading museums in Nigeria, but all is not well with the treasure house – on account of years of neglect and pilfering of its conent of its priceless artifacts. Agozino Agozino, who visited the museum, recently, writes on the almost abandon antiquity house.
Igbo Ukwu Museum run by the Anambra State Ministry of Youths, Sports and Culture, is one of the few museums owned by State governments in Nigeria. And like other repositories across the country, the museum has suffered unrelieved neglect. The first thing that greets a visitor, on arriving at the entrance to the antiquity house, is that the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) has disconnected it for many years. And no one could tell what is being done about it or why the building, which houses priceless Igbo heritage would be in darkness.
Since 2007, when the museum was disconnected from the public electricity supply, for non-payment of bills as gathered by Daily Times, it has remained in darkness. Apart from lack of electricity, the museum has no source of running water. Going inside the museum proper, one is shocked as to what the entire museum looks like. The walls and ceiling showed signed of having soaked up water for months, if not for many years, and to worsen matters, the ceiling is hanging insecurely. Founded in 1989 according to sources, the Igbo-Ukwu Museum comprises six sections. Sadly, however, the remnants of exhibits in the museum are covered by dust and the whole house looks unkempt. Apart from the fact that this is a museum that took off to a flying start only for it to suddenly lose steam, and would be abandoned for decades, everything inside the museum looks abandoned.
Although a national museum now operates in Igbo-Ukwu, but the Igbo-Ukwu museum opened years before the National Commission for Museum and Monument (NCMM) station started in the town, which is part of Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra State is a sorry sight. Daily Times gathered that neglect by the successive Anambra State government may explain why, today, the structure is a shell of its old self. When it was founded, the museum represented hope. But, today, that hope has been dashed. The museum is almost buried by weeds; the walls are damp, and the roofs are virtually caving in. Unfortunately, efforts by Daily Times to talk to the curator of the museum, which stands on Ekwuluobia- Nnewi road was abortive, as one staff, who craved anonymity, said that permission must be obtained before the curator can talk.
Like many other museums in Nigeria, the Igbo-Ukwu Museum had been targeted by looters, and over the years, priceless pieces of ancient bronze, sculptures, brass heads, wooden heads, masks and doors have been looted and in most cases, end up in Europe. In one instance, the looters of the museum, dealt the security guards a telling blow. At another time, the thieves carted away several original ancient artifacts – including a wooden face mask, believed to be shrine piece. Traditional ruler of Igbo-Ukwu, Igwe Martin Eze, said that uncountable artifacts and other ancient art works have so far been stolen from the museum. “It is a sad thing for us here, that art thieves don’t even respect our culture. They have looted this museum on several occasion and at each time taking away many of the artifacts in this place,’’ Eze said.
“Three chieftaincy sword’’ a ceremonial staff, two bronze bells, five bronze amulet, five ivory bangle and three face masks were also listed among what had been looted. The Igbo-Ukwu Museum origin could be said to date as far back to 1939, when Mr. Isaiah Anozie discovered many bronze sculptures, while digging to build a cistern in his compound.

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