Most cultural and technological heritage centers
have like Igun street in Benin-city seem to have been neglected despite their
great potentials as earners of revenue from tourism.
Q: What is your organization doing to arrest the
destructive onslaught on the cultural heritage sites in Benin.
A: As I said a taskforce may be set up soon to
maintain these monuments. But you must realize that the maintenance of the monuments
is from a multi-dimensional angle. There is the sanitation aspect, which is not
in our control, for instance refuse dumping in the moats, there is the house approval
aspect that is not within the ambiance of the museum. Those who approve building
plans are the ministry of land and survey and, may be the Edo state property
Development corporation. There is the environmental aspect too. Ours is to
rules have been set out and are clear: "do not destroy these monuments.
Before you erect a building you must give a distance of
50 feet from the moat. From the crest 50 feet, from the edge 50feet. If it
is the wall 100 feet. But what do we see today? The question now is, is it
the museum that should implement the regulations or the building
authorities which have apparently turned their eyes away from the way
people are building their houses, even on top of the moats. The
museum is to set the grand rules, which have set under
existing relevant pieces of legislation. I believe that if the state government
is interested in cultural tourism it has to take a more decisive step in
incorporating developments in the master-plan for Benin-city.
The master plan for Benin-city as it currently
exists has no cultural content. It was done in a western mode, which does not
go beyond mere mention of Ring Road, museum in a very peripheral aspect. They
did not talk about how the moats can be integrated and the moats being the
second largest earthworks in the world ought to be part of the master plan but
it was ignored. And the future development of master plan for the various urban
center in the state I am not sure that culture is included. It is a big missing
link. And cultural tourism remains the biggest possibilities for Edo state to
make money. If they enlist the support if UNESCO and the agencies that know about
Environmental abuse turns Benin Moats and other
cultural tourism centers into brick walls.
Q:Given the way the moats have encroached upon
making them to disappear gradually, and the given the fact that even if the moats
are reclaimed they will no longer be a wall round the city rather they would
be cutting through the city center. Are the moats still in modern day Benin.
do you reclaim the moats. Or do you think they should be forgotten?
A: The moats can not be forgotten. Even the Kano walls
have problems like this: It is a problem of urban development, which have not
been planed properly.
Culled From Sunday Times...