Friday, June 24, 2011

Ekpo Eyo: Burial in Lagos, 1 July

Exit of Nigeria’s legendary museologist
The burial of Professor Ekpo Eyo, the first Nigerian-born head of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM); will take place on Friday, 1 July, at Victoria Vaults and Gardens (VVG) in Lekki, Lagos. The interment will be preceded by a Service of Songs at National Museum, Onikan, Lagos in the evening hours of Thursday, 30 June.

A Requiem Service has been slated for 11am on 1 July at Presbyterian Church, Yaba, after which the remains of the late professor of archaeology will be bruried at VVG. The burial will be followed by a reception at Lagos Museum. The reception is slated to start around 3pm on 1 July.

Prof Ekpo Eyo passed on at his home in Maryland, USA; on Sunday, 29 May, 2011; and, his body arrived in Nigeria on 19 June. Ekpo Eyo was until 2006, a Professor of Archaeology at University of Maryland in the US. He had earlier, from 1967 to 1986, served as Nigeria’s museum chief for a record 18 uninterrupted years.

The late Prof Eyo hailed from Adak-uko in Creek Town, Western Calabar; but, he lived and worked for decades in Lagos. He is survived by his Yoruba-born widow, Augusta; and, two sons, Eric and Etim as well as numerous other relations, including two sisters.

Prof Ekpo Eyo had his primary education at a Presbyterian elementary school in Creek Town, before enrolling for secondary education at Duke Town Secondary School both in Calabar. He later proceeded to Cambridge University for further studies, and after returning home worked at the then Department of Antiquities, later renamed National Commission for Museums and Monuments; until his retirement in 1986.

After his retirement from service in 1986, Ekpo Eyo worked as an anthropology lecturer at University of Maryland; where he was appointed a professor. He was also author of numerous papers and books, including the unique volume on antiquities; From Shrines to Showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art; and, co-wrote The Terra cottas of Calabar with Dr. Christopher Slogar.

From shrines to showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art is published by the Federal Ministry of Information and Communication. Issued in 2008, the 256-page book also features Letty Wilson Bonnell and Christopher Slogar as Contributing Editors. From Shrines to showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art homes in on Historical Arts; which include Nok Terra cottas, Bakor (Ejagham) Monoliths, Calabar Terra cottas, Igbo Ukwu Bronzes, Ife Terra cottas and Bronzes, Esie Soap stone Figures, as well as Benin Bronzes and Ivories.

Despite its comparatively more ancient origins, not much has been written on the Calabar terra cottas. This is partly due to the fact that this piece of antiquity is something of a recent discovery, when compared to Ife’s Ori Olokun, found since 1910 and Igbo Ukwu artefacts, first unearthed around 1939. In comparison, the Calabar terra cottas were found in the 1980s.

Although little has been written on the Calabar Terra cottas, a few scholars have literally done justice to this aspect of Nigeria’s heritage; and, The Terracottas of Calabar, published by the Cultural Preservation Fund, is; arguably, the leading light on this subject. The Terracottas of Calabar is a joint project of the Old Residency Museum, Calabar; and the Cultural Preservation Fund, Washington DC, USA.

“Apart from his (Ekpo Eyo’s) knowledge of museology, museography et cetera, he has real and innate love of the museum. Such is his passion and commitment that I suspect he would love to be buried in a museum premises. There won’t be perfect rest for his soul, if after death, he ‘discovered’ that anyone saddled with museum work, failed to perform satisfactorily. As a worker, Ekpo Eyo was himself, like a priceless Museum piece”.
 - Mr. Akin Liasu, a former Director of Monuments, Heritage and Sites, who retired from the NCMM in 2006.

“Prof. Eyo rose through the ranks; obviously, he would know his onions. And he did. He was also helped by exposure. He knew his work, and knew how to put people through”.
 - Rosemary Bodam, former Curator National Museum Jos.

“Nigeria has lost a highly dedicated and foremost archaeologist and museologist; and, the vacuum would be hard to fill”. Mrs. Fatunsin, who retired from the NCMM in 2006, added: “He lived a very fulfilled life; but, it is sad that he is no more”. All the same, she declared; “thank God for Prof Ekpo Eyo’s life. May his soul rest in peace”.
-         Mrs. Anthonia Kehinde Fatunsin, Nigeria’s first female archaeologist and erstwhile NCMM Director, Educational and Training Services.

No comments:

Post a Comment