Saturday, May 12, 2012

Prof Ekpo Eyo Memorial Lecture debuts, 30 June

Prof Ekpo Eyo Memorial Lecture debuts, 
June 30

The premiere of what could possibly morph into an annual lecture in memory of the late Prof Ekpo Eyo, the first Nigerian-born head of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM); will take place at the Old Residency, Calabar on 30 June.
The late Prof Ekpo Eyo as he looked in the late 1960s.

The lecture, tagged First Prof Ekpo Eyo Memorial Lecture and billed to start at 10am, will be chaired by Prof (Mrs) Eka Braide, a former Vice Chancellor (VC), Cross River University of Technology (CRUTECH) and currently VC of Federal University, Lafia in Nasarawa State; while Prof Olu Lawal, University of Calabar is slated as lecturer, according to Mr. Sunny Adaka, Curator of National Museum, Calabar.

Prof Ekpo Eyo, who passed on at his Maryland, USA home on 29 May, 2011;  was inducted a Fellow of the Smithsonian Institution in 1984 and would be remembered for his competent leadership of the NCMM as well as his numerous illuminating papers and books, including the unique volume on antiquities; From Shrines to Showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art as well as The Terra cottas of Calabar; the latter, co-authored with Dr. Christopher Slogar.

The root of today’s NCMM lies in the Nigeria Antiquties Service (NAS), which was established in 1943 with Mr. Kenneth C. Murray, an art instructor and Superintendent of Education in the colonial service, as its founding father.

Mr. Bernard Fagg later succeeded Murray for a while, after which Murray was reappointed to that office. In his first term, Mr. Murray was Surveyor of Antiquities for 14 years (1943 to 1957). Mr. Bernard Fagg, who succeeded Murray, held office for six years until 1963, when the former art master was re-appointed helmsman.

In 1967, Prof Ekpo Eyo was appointed Director of the NCMM then called the Federal Department of Antiquities. Records show that the Ekpo Eyo-led Federal Department of Antiquities helped to foster a good image for Nigeria through exhibitions of indigenous antiquities/artefacts abroad.

For example, in 1980, Treasures of Ancient Nigeria: Legacy of 2000 Years was on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA from 14 August to 26 October.

Two years later, in 1982, Treasures of Ancient Nigeria travelled to the British capital, where it was displayed at the Royal Academy in Piccadilly, London from 30 October, 1982 to 23 January, 1983. These exhibitions engendered tremendous respect for Nigeria across the world.

An outstanding archaeologist, anthropologist and museologist, Ekpo Eyo left a legacy of efficient management of Nigeria’s National Museums by the time of his retirement in 1986.

After his retirement from Nigeria’s Federal Civil Service in 1986, Ekpo Eyo worked as an anthropology lecturer at University of Maryland, US; where he was appointed a professor.

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