Collectively, culture is a way of life in a given society. Tourism is the vehicle through which this way of life is appreciated.
In Nigeria, culture is manifested in art, dance, language, literature, folklore, mores, music, governance, and even the environment. According to archaeological finds, Nigerias artifacts depicting the early life of the people date back to 2000 years. The Nok Culture, the earliest of the finds depicted the early life of the people of the Nok region North of the Benue River. The characteristic features of the Nok culture, which flourished from 500, BC to AD 200 is the terracotta figurines associated with it and the extensive use of iron. The source of the knowledge of an iron technology has been attributed to the civilization of Meroe in what is today the Republic of Sudan, as well as to Carthage in North Africa.
Our Cultural Images
The Federal and State governments of Nigeria have always shown keen interest in the development of arts and crafts as a source of employment and means of developing aptitude and have given every possible assistance to the industry. The governments encourage the formation of cooperative societies to advise on the best way of increasing production and sales, and help to arrange exhibitions both in Nigeria and abroad. As a further step towards the development of arts and crafts, governments have opened art schools and colleges, such as the College of Technology, Yaba and the School of Fine Arts at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where students can develop their talents under the guidance of qualified instructors, Many of the students are sponsored by the government or private organizations. Government has also established various agencies for the coordination promotion and preservation of the Arts.
Below are some of them:
National Council for Arts and Culture
The National Council for Arts and Culture (NCAC) was established by Decree No. 3 of 1975 after the dissolution of the former Nigerian Arts Council. It started operations in and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC), is the custodian of cultural materials for Black and African peoples all over the world. The institution is a vital Center for the study, propagation and promotion of understanding of Black and African ideals and civilization.
Its core collection consists of all the unique and rare archival, library, audio-visual and museum materials deposited for safe keeping with the Nigerian Government, by the 59 Black and African Governments which participated in the FESTAC ’77. The materials, being preserved, utilized and augmented, represent the invaluable contributions made by the intellectuals, writers and artists who were the moving spirits behind the execution of FESTAC ’77.
The Center was officially declared open on 22nd June 1978, and has been declared a depository for UNESCO books, documents, etc. All the materials in the Center are distributed into four components, namely Archives, Library, Audio Visual and Museum Divisions. Among the collections in its museum is an exhibition on “African and the Origin of Man”, an invaluable discovery which provides material evidence that AFRICA IS THE CRADLE OF MAN.
National Commission for Museums and Monuments
The National Commission controls the registration and clearance for export of antiquities as well as arts and crafts (even newly made) for Museums and Monuments. There are severe penalties for attempting to export antiquities without a permit issued by the National Commission for Museum and Monuments. Export permits can be obtained at any of the National Museums in the country. The clearance permit serves as a conclusive part that an object is not an antiquity. Permits for export of antiquities should be directed, and with as much notice as possible, to the Director-General, National Commission for Museums and Monuments, National Museum, Lagos or to the Director-general, through the Curator and head of station of the National Museum in the state in which the applicant is located.
Walls and Ancient Buildings
City Wall and Moat, Benin Cit
These are the most impressive city walls and moats in southern Nigeria. At their highest point, the walls were nine metros high and the moat (ditch) nine metros deep, making a total incline of 18 metros. Unfortunately in the past few years, the walls and moats has been the victim of extensive soil excavation used as a source of building materials.
City Wall, Zaria
The Zaria City wall perhaps remains the best preserved among the cities of northern Nigeria. The need for defensive walls has disappeared since the occupation by the British of the Western Sudan at the beginning of this century. Moreover, the rains of over 50 wet seasons have battered down the tall mud walls rampant in this part of the country. The walls of Zaria, which circumnavigate the city, are between 14 and 16 kilometers long and are pierced by eight gates.
Gobirau Minaret, Katsina
This imposing minaret, or tower which originally is said to be some 120 metros tall and which was built of mud and palm timbers, is all that remains of the mosque constructed in Habe times, before the holy wars of Sheik Unman Dan Fodio. Parts of the 15.25-meter tower are thought to be about 250 years old.
Chief Ogiamen’s House, Benin City
This building is protected under the Antiquities Act of 1953 principally because of its architectural eminence as a fine example of Benin traditional architecture. It has an elaborate system of court yards and altars. It is a chief’s house and was probably built before the 1897 British expedition against Benin. The big fire that gutted the city following the British invasion did not affect the building.
Foot Bridge, Kaduna
This is an interesting example of indigenous engineering before the advent of roads and railways in Nigeria. The bridge was originally erected by Lord Lugard at Zungeru in 1904 and re-erected in 1954 in the Kaduna Gardens.
The bridge currently serves as a tourist attraction to teaming populace and a reminder of infrastructure laid by the colonial administrators.