Cross River monoliths to get UNESCO’s recognition
One of Cross River State’s cultural and tourist heritage, the Baker Monoliths that are also known as Unique Rock Arts has continued to attract major interest and it will now gain UNESCO recognition as one of the world’s heritage in West Africa.
This was made known at the flag-off of an event in Calabar at the weekend tagged, “A Unique Travelling Exhibition: The Ancient Rock Arts of Nigeria.”
At the event held at the premises of the National Museum Calabar, the project manager, Mr Terry Little who is also a senior lecturer at Ahmadu Bello University, Department of Archeology and Heritage Studies, expressed delight that the exhibition has finally found the limelight after being halted in March 2020 because of COVID-19.
He noted that rocks not just in Nigeria but all over Africa were one of the earliest means of communication by the ancestors.
“It is the earliest form of communication of our ancestors. In most cases, the rock carries spiritual messages. You know they didn’t have Facebook or Instagram; they had rocks upon which they leave their messages.
Mr Little appealed to the Federal Government to boost the budgets of the ministry of culture and invest more in infrastructural development like good roads, quality hotels and good airports because all of these will improve tourism and culture in Nigeria.
Also speaking, Dr Ferdinand Smith of Favtvm foundation revealed that his expectation at the end of this project is to draw UNESCO attention to the amazing cultural heritage of Cross River State monolith for it to gain recognition as a world heritage site.
“I have engaged in many projects around the world with Factor foundation but I have to say that Bakor monolith in Cross River State is the most interesting project I’ve ever worked with and that’s because the heritage is very much alive and it’s very much connected to the community around there. Hopefully, my dream for the end of the project is that this amazing cultural heritage will be recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site.
The Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Prof. Abba Isa Tijani, who was represented by Dr Victoria Osuagwu, Director, Monuments Heritage and Sites lauded the Cross River state government for keeping this rich cultural heritage and she appealed to the state government to kindly remove the crossbar at the entrance road of the museum to enable people from other parts of the world to freely participate in the ongoing exhibition.
“Cross River State is a beautiful place and museum is one the places where her rich cultural heritage is a house but if people cannot have access to the exhibition or cultural relics in the museum then the essence of the exhibition is lost. I know the governor, Prof Ben Ayade loves Art and Culture and I believe this international exhibition is the right opportunity for the crossbar to be removed, so that visitors not only in Nigeria but the world over can visit the museum and this will in turn improve the tourism level of the state.
Nigeria is home to some of the most unique and vulnerable rock art in Central and West Africa, including the Bakor monoliths of Cross River State and the painting sites in the Jigawa and Bauchi States.
In 2018, the Trust for African Rock Art (TARA), with the support of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, launched a project with funding from the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation aimed at ensuring the conservation of this heritage through documentation, community engagement, and outreach.
On this note, the Ancient Rock Art of Nigeria is organising a 3-month travelling exhibition in Calabar with the aim to celebrate this ancient heritage and the achievements of the project and the dedicated members of the project team from across Nigeria.
Culled from the Nation Newspaper.