The United States government has awarded a grant of $400,000 (approximately N144 million) for the conservation of the 14th century Sungbo Eredo Earthworks of the Yoruba Ijebu Kingdom in Nigeria.
A statement by the U.S. Mission in Nigeria, on Wednesday, said the grant is the largest Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) grant in Nigeria, and the second largest in sub Saharan Africa.
The Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation Large Grants Program aims at the preservation of major ancient archaeological sites, historic buildings and monuments, and major museum collections that are accessible to the public and protected by law in the host country.
The grant, received by a US-based institution, College of William and Mary, in collaboration with the National Commission for Museum and Monuments, Augustine University (Ilara), and the Natural History Museum at Obafemi Awolowo University will work to preserve and build awareness of the monumental public work that is currently under increasing pressure from urbanisation, industrialisation, and erosion.
Mary Beth Leonard, the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, said the U.S. is a strong supporter of efforts to preserve Nigerian culture through the AFCP.
“The U.S support for this project, using state-of-the-art remote-sensing technology for mapping, conservation, and preservation, shows our commitment to Nigeria’s rich heritage.
“In the last three years projects worth over $370,000 have included the Trust for African Rock Art for rock art preservation in Cross River and Jigawa States, and the documentation of traditional knowledge of the Ifa cultural system in Oyo state. The AFCP also helped restore the Gobarau minaret in Katsina, and the Kofar Kanakali gate in Kano,” Ms Leonard said.
She added that the U.S Mission will continue to explore opportunities to support the preservation of Nigeria’s rich heritage using the Ambassador’s Fund and other partnership mechanisms.
Speaking on behalf of the partners, Gerard Chouin, the director, Medieval and Renaissance program at the College of William & Mary, applauded the U.S Mission for its support for the project.
“This will communicate to future generations of Nigerians the importance of the monument, which is the largest ever built on earth,” Mr Choin said.