On the 27th of July 2018, Freshmen from the Department of History, Benue State University embarked on an Excursion visit to the National Museum, Makurdi. The Museum which is situated at High level, adjacent the Federal High court in the Northern part of the state did played host to the visitation of the students.
It was indeed a worthwhile experience for the freshmen as they were quite ecstatic seeing spectacular things such as crocodile, specie of lizard known as monitor lizard which is scientifically called Varanus Indicus.
The purpose of the Excursion however was to have more knowledge about the basic history about the nation in its totality. The National museum, Makurdi Coordinator, Mr. Omaya Nicholas while speaking to the students on the importance of the museum
He explained saying that “Every museum is adapted to its own environment, the contents the museum have in its store is what it provide to the public. The museum preserves the settlement pattern of the people, it also helps people to appreciate their past and how they come about today”.
While speaking on the history of the museum, He said “this museum was established in 1988, and its absolute thirty years. It was established without a gallery; gallery is a show case where artifacts are kept but as at March 2004, the gallery was made.
However, this exhibition is to show some archaeological objects and ethnographical
objects of worship, ceremonies, defence, hunting and agricultural implements, formed amongst the people of lower Benue region”
Some of the artefacts in the gallery were objects such as smoking pipe made up of wood which was referred to as an object of relaxation. According to the museum coordinator, Mr. Omaya Nicholas, he said it is believed in the ancient days that after our fore-fathers came back from hunting, they cut a tobacco and fill it inside the smoking pipe to relax from the day’s work and stress.
He further said that in the ancient days, king used this smoking pipe to communicate spiritually with people from a far distance. The Head mask was also identified as another fascinating object, He said “This head mask is used during annual festival such as the yam festival usually celebrated in Igede land. It is used annually.
Alongside is the face mask, this mask is used by masquerades during ceremonial periods such as, burial ceremony, Easter ceremony etc. the face mask is an opposite of the head mask in the sense that, the face mask is used occasionally while the head mask is used annually”.
While speaking on another striking object which caught the attention of the Students known as “The fertility god.” he outlined that “There were three figures in the gallery and each of these figures are called, in idoma (Anjenu), in Tiv (Ihambe), in Nasarawa (Afor), and it is carved from wood and designed as a woman with protruding stomach”.
It was categorically explained that this deity is believed to be givers of fertility to barren women, unfertile land and animals. It is kept in the shrine. People in those days, mostly women do go to the shrine to make request and pay homage to it. It is believed that the deity serve as intermediary between the people and God.
The authorities handling the daily activities of the museum however pleaded with the state government concerning the state of the museum, Mr. Omaya Nicholas said “all these were as a result of lack of fund”.
He said the funds gotten from the federal government and state government were not enough to cater for the daily maintenance of the museum. He further said that the museum has been in existence since 1988 with no proper maintenance, landscaping etc.
By- Emmanuel Alfred Brown