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Published on 14 September 2011
Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam has implored the Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts to explore how the history of Central Nigeria can be "unmasked" through the dynamic interrelationship of its peoples and their arts.
The governor who gave this charge during an ongoing exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts in Washington DC said he made the call because more than 25 ethnic nationalities live along the Benue valley with indigenous arts, adding that more interestingly is the striking personality and functionality of these art forms produced by the peoples of the region on the one hand and the existing mutuality between these arts and the people on the other.
He said, "Benue state hosts the Benue River, a major tribulatory of the River Niger, running a stretch of approximately 1400km from Northern Cameroon and following into the Lake Chad.
It joins the River Niger at Lokoja in present day Kogi State, Nigeria and is historically credited for serving as a major access belt to North East Nigeria. The relevance of the theme, 'Central Africa Unmasked: Arts of the Benue Valley' underscores the role of arts as a unifying vehicle in the sustenance of national peace and global harmony".
Noting that art aims at transforming nature into patterns and designs that are capable of informing, interpreting, showcasing and communicating thoughts, ideas and ideals, as well as social/cultural institutions, Suswam added that it is nature rearrangement by means of the creative ingenuity and exploits of the human brain.
The Governor stressed further that there is arguably a huge dearth of historical documentation and promotion of the arts of the Benue Valley, even as there has not been a comprehensive or articulated study to synthesise the diverse artistic richness of an area peopled by a wide range of ethnic configurations.
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