It’s better I break the eggs here at the beginning so we can together see what the yolk looks like: Yellowish or Brown.
To be very honest, my visit to the National Museum Lagos was one I would never have told if not for this blog post.
‘Who Even Sent Me Message?’
Remember the day I went with Precious to the Nike Art Gallery? The original plan was to come make some findings from this museum to enable me complete an interesting article for Bella Naija. And since we weren’t able to access the museum that day, Precious insisted we revisited.
How To get To The National Museum Lagos
We needed very little planning before joining a Danfo from Yaba to Obalende from where we entered another Keke to Onikan. Once at Onikan, we only strolled for a couple of seconds to the main entrance of the museum (founded in 1957 by Kenneth Murray) which sat on what looked like an acre of land by the left side of the road.
As expected, we were accosted by the same pot-bellied gate man what had attended rudely to us on our first visit. The fact that he wasn’t wearing any shirt made him more repulsive. “Where una dey go? Abi una no see me here?” He shouted wearing a look which oozed of entitlement as he walked towards us.
“You don’t talk to strangers that. And we could have greeted you if you had sat at your duty post by the gate.” I retorted.
“Make una no vex”, he said- with a sorry countenance. “Where una dey go?”
Me: We came to see the museum.
“Na the entrance be dat”, he pointed towards the reception area revealing his unkempt armpit in the process.
How Much Does The Museum Charge?
Two women were at the well-ventilated reception. They looked unhappy as we greeted them. The younger of them who stood up to sell the tickets to us seemed to have been defeated by the Nigerian struggle.
“One ticket is N300, so you will pay N600 for the both of you.” She said softly- still looking dejected. We thanked her and headed into the museum through the courtyard as the older lady fixed her gaze on us. The breeze from the courtyard tasted differently on the tongue as we strolled by the courtyard.
Two other women chatted away as we walked past them into the Main Museum. I was still trying to figure out what their duty was when the man we met at the reception inside the museum replied Precious’ greetings. She showed him our tickets and he gave us a crash course on how to navigate the Museum.
“You can either go round yourselves or wait till one of the tour guides is free to take you around. But you will have to say thank you to him with small change (money) afterwards. I can also take you round if you don’t mind”. He said with a crooked smile before we could even make up our minds on the options.
With a loud thud, he closed the log book in front of him and hurriedly led us through to the first of the sections of the Museum.
Unlike the Cocoa House Museum in Ibadan which was more focused on the ancient Yoruba Heritage, The Lagos national was designed to reach visitors about the Nigerian Life Cycle system from Birth, to growth to death and down to reincarnation.
Here Are The Segments In The National Museum Lagos
Section 1- Fertility and Birth
This section tries to explain how the ancient Nigerian societies went about childbirth. A process which spanned from pregnancy seeking, to childbirth to the upbringing.
Items such as:
Te divination chain, tray, fertility figurine, pepper-soup spices, Shea butter, local sponge and wooden dolls and circumstition knife were found carefully placed in different glass boxes.
Section 2- Initiation
Following childbirth is initiation into different cults and age group, as it is believed that these groups and cults help provide the needed community help each child is supposed to have.
In this section we found items like:
White chalk, ekoi skin cover, cola nut, cam wood, dried laali leaf, ceremonial spoon given to a new wife as a symbol of love, wooden stool given to a wife by her husband and is displayed at her funeral as a sign of achievement.
Section 3- Wisdom and knowledge
As a complement to the initiation is the wisdom and knowledge section because it’s believed that this is essential for every young person as they grow into adults and subsequently hold leadership roles and titles.
Here, we found:
Opon ifa, agogo ifa and tortoise shell.
Section 4 – Adult life segment
Now fully grown, each one is expected to get married and set up a home. so this segment focused majorly on different home styles in the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria and different home appliances in each.
Perforated clay pots, waist bead, Igbako, woven trousers, cane basket, palm wine keg etc.
Section 5- Governance
This section focused on different aspect of ancient governance.
Popular among the items found there were:
Beaded crown, ogboni staff, wooden staff and Ikenga,
Section 6- religion
The believe is that there’s a God and this necessitated the need for myriads of mediators, birthing creation of smaller gods.
Arugba Sango, Esu, Sango, beaded war dress
Section 7- Death & Funeral
This section elucidate on how the dead are buried in different parts of the country. For instance, in the Yoruba land, people who die in water are buried by the river bank while Accidental victims are buried in the bush in Cross River state.
The items found here include:
is Funeral mat, woven clothe, snail shell, Calabar terracotta head etc.
Section 8- Reincarnation
The believe that after death, the soul passes into a new body or a new form of being, is an essential tenet of Nigeria and many African societies. These are mostly masquerades which are believed to be the Representatives of the departed.
Mumuye ancestral figure (Adamawa state), Osamasinmi, Oron ancestrail figure, the figure representing the head of the Ooni etc.
After our stint in the main building, we were led to the backyard, an isolated room attached to the main building to learn about the Nigerian Government, from the pre colonial era, through to the republics and Democracy.
I hastily breezed through Nigerian history which was summarized in rectangular portraits accompanied by images of different Nigerian past leader. The most fascinating thing in the room of course was the Mercedes Benz which belonged to Late Muritala Mohamed, a former Nigerian head of state who was assassinated in his car while on his way to the office in February 1976.
The hunger I was feeling reinforced our rapid exit from the room.
We briskly took few pictures within the compound before exiting the building through the main gate. Our gateman friend (who was now friendlier) continued greeting us the best way possible but my mind was all made not to give him a penny.
Verdict And Suggestions
The National museum Lagos can easily become one of the most interesting places to go in the state if there could be a complete overhauling of the staff from the current stack of unhappy and defeated folks we met, to young and optimistic minds, who really understand the fortunes embedded in the Nigerian Tourism Industry.
The Government too have a fair share of the blame, because it was obvious little or no attention was paid to this monument, which would have been more enticing to visitors looking to learn about Nigeria’s interesting past.
Tips On Visiting The National Museum Lagos
- Go on a weekday, since you’re likely to suffer the same fate as we did (with the heat) if you go on a Saturday.
- Go early so you can probably have the museum to yourself.
- Hold a hand fan …X2
- Wear something light
- Go with someone or a group.