10 Culturally Historic Buildings in Nigeria
The histories of world nations aren’t always written but also lay bare in buildings, for the senses to feel and the eyes to soak in their peculiar sights. Nigeria, a nation indisputably rich in culture has no shortage of historical buildings and landmarks some of which have made the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Here’s a look at some of them.
Mary Slessor House, Calabar
Built in the late 19th century, this modest-looking domicile with its thatched roof and ascetic façade once housed the iconic Scottish missionary best known for stopping the killing of twins in Calabar. Rather than choose to dwell among her colleagues in the missionary quarters, Mary Mitchell Slessor opted to live among the Calabar people. The outcome of that brave decision is the Mary Slessor House in Ekenge, Calabar, which stands till today as a testament to her selfless service and courage.
National War Museum, Abia
This museum, which houses relics of past wars, especially the Nigerian civil war, is an offshoot of various attempts to promote reconciliation and at the same time preserve history. It is located at Ebite Amafor in Isingwu autonomous community in Umuahia Local Government. Its location is in the exact place the famous ‘Voice of Biafra’ radio was transmitting from during the civil war. For those seeking a healthy dose of Nigerian civil war history, this site is an excellent choice.
First Storey Building in Nigeria, Badagry
Widely reputed to be the first storey building erected by foreigners in Nigeria, this edifice was once used as a primary school by the Methodist Church. Its foundations were laid by the famous missionary Henry Townsend in 1842 and completed in 1845 by Rev. Bernard Freeman and other notable missionaries. This historic building would later house the first African C.M.S (Church Missionary Society) bishop, Samuel Ajayi Crowther who translated the Bible from English to Yoruba.
Gobirau Minaret, Katsina
A visit to the centre of Katsina State in Nigeria reveals this strategically placed historical monument and landmark. This ancient yet imposing structure is the Gobirau Minaret, which is reportedly about 7 centuries old. Some historical accounts state that it was built during the reign of Sarkin Muhammadu Korau (1348-1408 AD), the first Muslim king of Katsina while others contest that it was much later. The Gobiran Minaret is a 50ft minaret originally used in calling Muslim faithfuls for prayers but due to its vantage placement, it also served as a look-out point for approaching enemies.
Ancient Nok Settlement, Kaduna
This tiny settlement is the site of the famous Nok terracotta findings of the early 20th century. It is situated in Jaba Local Government in the southern crook of Kaduna State, and is generally regarded as the site of Africa’s first civilisation. It also has breath taking mountains and a museum housing unique terracotta artefacts.
Oba of Benin Palace, Edo
Listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1999, this ancient building was first constructed around the 13th century by Oba Ewedo of Benin and later rebuilt by his successor, Oba Eweka II in the 20th. This landmark site is among the enduring legacies of one of the most powerful empires in West Africa.
Ancient Kano City Walls
Unlike the Gobirau Minaret in Katsina, the city walls of ancient Kano served solely as a defensive structure – to protect the inhabitants of the city against sieges and external attacks. Sakri Gijimasu, the 3rd Emir of Kano laid its foundations in the 11th century (1095 AD), while the walls are recorded to have been completed sometime in the 14th century.
Sungbo Eredo, Ogun
Similar to the ancient city walls of Kano, Sungbo Eredo was a defensive structure located about an hour away from Lagos in Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. This little known fortification is said to date back to the 10th century, and hints at the existence of a highly organised civilisation in the area much earlier than previously reported. Legend has it that Eredo, a wealthy and childless widow who desired to be remembered after her death, built the walls.
First Presbyterian Church, Calabar
Calabar being a vital geographic point due to its proximity to the sea, attracted attention from foreigners especially European missionaries and colonialists. The first Presbyterian Church in Nigeria was founded by Rev. Hope Masterson Waddell as early as 1846 and has endured as a lasting legacy of missionary work in Nigeria.
National Museum of Benin City
The National Museum, Benin contains priceless relics from the ancient Benin Kingdom and others from elsewhere in Nigeria. Though it was officially opened to the public in 1973, it was originally established by the Oba of Benin much earlier in a bid to preserve Benin’s rich cultural history. Chief Jacob Eghareva served as the first curator of the museum.
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