By Patrick Ochei
In commemoration of the International Museum Day, the Founder of the Organisation For the Advancement of Anioma Culture (OFAAC) and Chief Executive Officer of the Contemporary Group Ltd, Arc. Kester Ifeadi has been honoured with an Award of Excellence by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) in Asaba, Delta State.
He was honoured in recognition of his tireless effort in promoting Nigeria’s Rich Cultural Heritage, by the Director General of National Museums and Monuments, Prof. Abba Isa Tijani, who was represented by the Curator, National Museum, Mungo Park House, Asaba, Elder Emeka Idika Kalu.
In the address of the DG, Ifeadi was eulogized for not just his architectural prowess with over 300 designs and projects all over the country in his over 35 years of practice, but for his inspirational cum professional contributions to the Restoration of the Mungo Park House, Asaba.
Historically, the Mungo Park House was built in 1886 as soon as the colonial masters disembarked by the River Niger through the Royal Niger Company that oversaw Nigeria on behalf of the British Government at the time. That means that, Nigeria was ruled by the colonial masters from Asaba way before places like Calabar and Lagos.
When the concept to Restore the Mungo Park House to its original form was hatched as soon as the National Museums and Monuments commenced operation therein in 1997, Ifeadi was fully involved and indeed supervised the project, thereby restoring it to its original state as it were in 1886.
In view of the above, in addition to his numerous contributions to cultural renaissance and traditional rebirth in Nigeria, he was selected among many to be so honoured by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments.
In his address, Prof. Tijani recognised that “The world looks up to May 18 every year, as Museums and communities from all over the world come together to celebrate International Museum Day.
“Throuh the years, International Museum Day has become a veritable avenue to advocate for the role of Museums in society. This year, the theme for the World Museum Day celebration is ‘Museums, Sustainable Development and Well-being’.
“The theme of this year’s Museum Day has opened up huge possibilities for Museums and cultural organisations to engage with the health and well-being of society.
“The National Commission for Museums and Monuments as an agent of government charged with the responsibility of protection and promotion of the nation’s Heritage resources, has contributed and is still contributing to achieving Sustainable Development Goals; supporting climate action and fostering inclusivity, tackling social isolation, and improving mental health.
“As we join the global community to mark the 2023 International Museum Day, let us be conscious of our roles and the expectations of the people around us”, the DG posited.
Congratulating Ifeadi once more on his numerous contributions to the promotion of Culture and building of bridges across ethnic boundaries through professional architecture and philanthropy, the Curator of the National Museum Asaba, Elder Emeka Idika Kalu commended him for the huge support he has continued to render to the Mungo Park House.
He equally thanked the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa on behalf of the DG, for his immense financial assistance to the Restoration of the Mungo Park House.
In his response to the Award, Arc. Kester Ifeadi said, though he was overwhelmed by the award, he would forever cherish it as a mark of appreciation.
He said he has received numerous Awards in the past, but sees this one as special to the effect that he would never regret his effort in the Mungo Park House project.
Arc. Ifeadi therefore, dedicated the award to God as the Giver of Talent and Grace, for how He has continued to make all things possible for him.
He also dedicated the award to the Governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa for his commitment to tourism development, affirming that the Restoration of the Mungo Park House wouldn’t have been possible without the approval and funding of the Government under Governor Okowa. He sincerely appreciated him for monitoring all aspects of progress of the project until it was completed and put to use.
For Chief Philip Asiodu, Arc. Ifeadi thanked him for his efforts in National Conservation of Monuments and undisputed concept to the Restoration of the Mungo Park House, maintaining that the Mungo Park House is one of the most cherished projects in his over 35 years of practice as an Architect.
According to Ifeadi, “The National Commission for Museums and Monuments should endeavour to extract more information from the ethnic nationalities that make up the Lower Niger Basin, in order to make the Asaba Museum richer in quantity and quality.
“You need to do a proper history of the Mungo Park House while also expanding on the Exhibition to tell a richer story in order to showcase the underlying importance of the heritage.
“In all of these, the economic importance of Tourism cannot be overemphasised. Apart from Agriculture, Tourism is the next industry that puts money in everybody’s pocket. I once travelled to observe the Zanziba culture; their tourism potential is not as rich as that of Mungo Park, but they were able to package their culture well, to the effect that tourists regularly occupy their hotels from all over the world.
“We need more advocacy if we must advance, leveraging on the strategic importance of the Mungo Park House. The Traditional Rulers as custodians of culture and traditions must get involved to make the effort a sustainable venture. I suggest that they should begin by ensuring that the Gallery proposed for the Council of Traditional Rulers House, is fully implemented”, Ifeadi advised.
It was a huge honour done Ifeadi, as he was showered with accolades from dignitaries present while receiving the award alongside two other recipients.
Indeed, it was an entertaining day as there were cultural performances and other side attractions that made the event a befitting one.