One of Coker’s works
Amid the absence of documenting essential cultural and historical artifacts in the country, experts have called for an attitude of saving history and consciously maintaining them for posterity. They made the appeal at a photography exhibition held at the Railway Museum, Federal Road, Ebuta-Meta, Lagos.
According to them, there was the need to raise more awareness on restoring the abundant historical values, environmental monuments and buildings in the country, which are aging as a result of lack of environmental preservation.
General Secretary of Legacy 1995, a historical and Environmental Interest Group in Nigeria, which also manage the Jaekel House, Juachi Obi, observed that if efforts were not painstakingly directed in reconstructing some of Nigeria’s monuments, there would not be anything for the children to learn from. She stated that the responsibility must not be left for the governments; rather, all stakeholders in Nigeria should support such effort.
Obi described the photographic exhibition, as a necessity for a rethink on lack of care towards Nigerian monuments.“It shows how far we have gone, makes us to ask ourselves whether we are going in the right direction. It tells us of the need to preserve, conserve and keep in touch with our root so that we don’t just lose everything. So, that when we are old we can possibly say, ‘the good old days’ like our parents.”
The newly appointed Curator for Railway Museum, Ebuta Metta, Akinwoye Abdulraouf said the exhibition was a laudable professional and historical demonstration of skills and wisdom in documenting history in Abeokuta for Lagos residents. He noted that it was a wise action to keep posterity informed about the past, the present and the future for cultural promotion.
He noted, “This is not an ordinary photograph but a special photographic coverage of age-old places in Abeokuta. Since Railway cut across regions and states of Nigeria, first time visitors in Lagos can come here to see those pictorial illustrations of Abeokuta; students, organisations can come, too. This is another angle to reminisce our past; it is showcasing tradition, culture and history. Railway is something that showcases national integration of the country.”
He said the management of the Nigerian Railway, in conjunction with Legacy 1995, was making efforts to ensure that the near-comatose 118 years old Museum, which was the first to host the first General Manager of the Nigerian Railway, come back to life in terms of infrastructure and rolling stocks.
SPEAKING on the 15 series of photographic exhibition called ‘Ile’, the author of the work, Olademeji Coker, a computer science graduate, photographer, who hails from Ogun State, said the motivation was a call to “share stories personal to him in pictures, preserve, conserve and keep in touch with our root”.
The photographs, all sourced from landmark monuments and locations in Abeokuta, covered a wide range of areas which include family compound, the scenic display of market women at popular Itoku Market, overall views of residential areas, an old woman working on a local broom, a lonely, young woman in a moody state of mind by her window, young boys playing soccer in front of a dilapidated building amongst others, all taken in black and white.
While explaining the concept behind one of the photographs, called ‘Living Me,’ which illustrates a wide cracked portion on the Olumo Rock, Coker said the crack shows a crying out that the people are no longer identifying with the monument, which is supposed to stand as a fortress for Abeokuta. He said the crack in the rock is a metaphor for the neglect because Olumo Rock.He said: “Our origins represent heritages passed on from generation to generation.
It is our collective duty to ensure that they are not neglected and passed on from our generation to the next. I hope these pictures take us all back to our origins. We must contribute to their socio-cultural development and pass on their moral codes to the next generation as the survival of our heritages depend on us consciously refusing to be negligent.”