The U.S. Embassy in Nigeria is to spend $127,000 on the digital documentation and conservation of Busanyin Shrine located in the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove.
The $127,000 grant was awarded to CyArk, a California-based non-profit, through the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, AFCP.
Speaking at the signing of the project’s Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, on Monday in Lagos, U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, said AFCP was administered by U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
She said that the grant supports the present preservation of major ancient archaeological sites, historic buildings, monuments and major museum collections that are accessible to the public and protected by law in their host country.
“Today, we’re proud to be launching our 2020 AFCP award to digitally document and conserve the Busanyin shrine located within the Osun Osogbo sacred grove”.
“CyArk and its local partners were awarded a $127,000 grant under the AFCP small grant programme to help document a series of shrines in the sacred grove and provide training to local professionals to build capacity and digital documentation skills and cultural heritage management.
“The 3D digital documentation of the shrine is the necessary first step to provide the most accurate record of the current conditions of the site and effectively plan a restoration project that will increase resilience at the site during a natural disaster or extreme weather conditions,” she said.
Leonard said that the Busanyin Shrine, one of eight monuments within the grove, had been significantly damaged throughout the years due to extreme flooding.
She added that the U.S. and Nigeria were also finalising a bilateral agreement that would establish restrictions against the import of prohibited items of cultural property into the U.S.
This agreement, she said, would encourage public and private cultural institutions and law enforcement agencies in both countries to work together on repatriating trafficked objects and fostering cultural exchanges.
Prof. Abba Tijani, Director General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), said that the commission had been collaborating with relevant stakeholders to protect, conserve and manage national assets.
One of such collaborations, he said, was that between NCMM and Cyark in 2019 which led to a successful workshop on 3D documentation.
“This is a great opportunity to train some staff of the commission as well as carry out more works at the grove,” he said.
According to Tijani, the Osun-Osogbo sacred grove, Nigeria’s second World Heritage Site and primary rain forest, is fast disappearing in the West-African sub region.
“The grove is important to many of its devotees both within and outside the country and other stakeholders, hence, the need to keep it in good state of conservation at all times.
This training programme will not only empower the staff of the commission in 3D documentation of cultural heritage but also assist in conservation works to be carried out in the grove,” he said.
Also, Olu Adeosun, Member, Board of Trustees, Adunni Olorisha Trust, said that conserving heritage sites would not only preserve them for posterity but also provide accessibility to people around the world.
He said that the Adunni Olorisa Trust was founded in 2003 to ensure that the Osogbo art legacy was preserved and that the integrity of the Osun grove was protected.
“Our focus has always been on the restoration of the site and the works in the groves.
“The grant has come at the appropriate time because the need for a comprehensive digital reconstruction of the grove could not be more important,” Adeosun said.