The objectives of the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding are very clear, as the name itself implies. Moreover, Ulli Beier’s archive which will form the nucleus of the Centre, is international in scope: it contains materials from Nigeria, Benin Republic and Ghana in West Africa, as well as from Papua Guinea, India and Native Australia. Ulli Beier was more than just a scholar and recorder of Nigerian and other cultures. He was an active participant in Yoruba festivals and religious worships. He also was, culturally-speaking, a border-crosser: he loved to get artists from different cultural expressions together to produce something new, thereby promoting better understanding through cultural interaction. The Centre will take inspiration from these and combine participation in, and promotion of, cultural activities with “cultural border-crossing,” in addition to its programmes of cultural exchange (of artists and exhibitions) as well as some black societies.
Given the fact that a lot of the materials are about Yoruba religious practices from the 1950s to the early 1970s, the Centre will reach out to centres of Yoruba religious practices in Brazil, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, the US, and the West Indies.
Although the Centre is seeking links worldwide, it will actively forge cultural cooperation, through exchanges, exhibitions, etc., with other African countries. The Centre will make this a priority because of our observation that we Africans tend to know more about Europe and America than we know even about our nearest neighbours. Thus, the Centre will link up with the proposed International Gelede House in Shabe, Benin Republic (another UNSESCO supported project). Gelede, incidentally is shared by the Yoruba of Nigeria, Benin Republic, and Togo.
Osogbo, the location of the Institute, is quite close to the universities at Ibadan, Ile-Ife, Ilorin, Lagos, Benin, each with its own centre or institute of African (or Cultural) Studies. Scholars and students in these institutes can easily avail themselves of the materials in the archive. Of course, we have received assurance of commitment to collaborate and support the Centre from these Universities as well as foremost traditional institutions in the southwest Nigeria. Both Osogbo township itself (renowned for its Osun festival, the shrine of which has been listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO) and its surrounding towns are rich in festivals and other cultural practices. The Centre has maped out a programme of cooperation with, and acquisition of artifacts from, these towns. Osogbo was also the seal of the famous Osogbo Art Movement (started by Ulli Beier and his wife, Geoginal) of the 1960s, and the most famous of the artists still reside in the town, or close-by. These artists will only be too glad to work with the Centre and, if need be, even donate both their earliest and present works to the Centre.
1. Education and Research
2. Collaboration and networking
4. Workshops and Colloquia
5. International exchange programmes
6. Acquisition of adequate resources
7. Internships, Research Assistantships
8. Faculty, staff and student exchange
9. Archival and technical support
10. Data base development
11. Fundraising activities, membership, campaigns.
Government Reserved Area
Abere, Osun State