The United Kingdom (UK) Government celebrated Nigerian railway heritage in Lagos as a way to showcase the progress of an ongoing promotion of UK-Nigeria shared heritage in the railway sector (Heritage Project).
This was at an exhibition of photographs from “The Heritage Project”.
The event held Jan. 31 was declared open by the Nigeria Railway Corporation’s (NRC) Managing Director, Mr Fidet Okhiria.
The UK British Deputy High Commissioner in Lagos, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, also took the opportunity to host transport and heritage sector stakeholders in a workshop.
According to Llewellyn-Jones in a statement, this programme was also meant to showcase the collaborative project between the NRC, Oxford University and Heritage Group Legacy 1995, which runs the railway museum at Jaekel House, Ebute-Metta.
He said the programme was explored to discuss ways and means to leverage railway and transport heritage assets, buildings and stories interests for social impact and economic development.
“I am delighted to be here with other distinguished speakers, participants and volunteers to strengthen the discourse on the UK-Nigeria heritage collaboration project.
“To also discuss on how this rich history of British-Nigerian heritage can be approached collaboratively in parallel projects and arenas.
“The digital heritage project which has used UK research funding to work with partners in Nigeria is designed to document and record railway history in ways which are local to each area of Nigeria.
“We are glad this is happening at a time when Nigeria is redeveloping its rail networks,” he said.
Llewellyn-Jones noted that the project had used UK research funding to work with partners in Nigeria who were interested in depicting their own heritage in the digital era.
” You can see the NRC, Non-governmental organisations, academics and the public collaborating to really localise the international story of the railways in their own communities,” he said.
A cross-section of dignitaries at the programme
Also, Mr Taiye Olaniyi, Legacy Vice-President and a retiree, who volunteered as one of the lead researchers on the project, said, “Local history is a stimulant to the appreciation of cultural heritage.
“This workshop facilitates cross fertilising ideas on how railway history and heritage can be preserved and promoted in Nigeria.
“The project also brought in the skills of railway employees including the public relations officers across the network, and volunteer researchers ranging from students to those in their 70s, to highlight their own local perspectives on the impact of the railways in their own communities,” he said.
Olly Owen, the Research Coordinator on the project, said “We have been really lucky in the level of support and goodwill the project has received from NRC staff, to professionals such as architects and award-winning photographers.
“These people are putting in their time to the support of organised local research groups.
“At a moment when Nigeria is redeveloping its rail network for the future, we want to show how the heritage of the railways, connecting people and places can be a resource in itself
“Not just for education, or remembering, or a sense of identity but also a material resource for culture and tourism”.
Also, Ifunanya Mad
ufo of the Centre for Memories in Enugu, a participant in the research work, lauded the programme.
Madufo said: “Speaking to people about this history really brought out their memories about how the railways helped ordinary people from each locality and trade to communicate and develop a huge range of professions.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the UK-Nigeria heritage collaboration project work was funded by an Impact Acceleration Account from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, through Oxford University’s Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology.
Impact acceleration funding allows UK research institutions to work with partners from all sectors to apply social sciences knowledge to challenges in the industry.
The programme attracted stakeholders from the transport and heritage sector, groups as diverse as transport operators, academics, Lagos state government policy makers and UK British Business Groups in Nigeria.