By donating to the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the United States has helped to preserve one of Nigeria’s most sacred historic cultural sites, the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove (AFCP).

The United States, which is commemorating the 20th anniversary of the AFCP, has contributed over a million dollars to such projects in Nigeria.

The US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard, said the signing of the memorandum of understanding to launch the new Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation Grant to preserve the Busanyin Shrine within the Osun Sacred Grove on Monday demonstrated the US commitment to partner with Nigeria to preserve its rich history and culture.

She explained that the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs administers the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation (or AFCP) grants program, which supports 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 a host country.

“As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, the United States is proud to say that we have funded projects worth over a million dollars across Nigeria,” the Ambassador said, adding that the US Mission has partnered with the Nigerian government to preserve cultural landmarks and sites for over a decade through the AFCP.

Prior to the project, Leonard said, the US Mission had funded the conservation of Sungbo’s Eredo (ER RAY DOE), a famous system of fortifications built to protect the ancient Ijebu (EE JAY BU) Kingdom in Southwest Nigeria in the late 14th century.

“The $400,000 AFCP project, which began earlier this year, is using three-dimensional laser scanning technology to generate a precise topographic map covering a thousand square kilometers of the monument’s occupied area,” she said. This 3-D map will be the most accurate representation of any archaeological or architectural feature in Nigeria.”

“Today, we are proud to announce the launch of our 2020 AFCP award to digitally document and conserve the Busanyin Shrine in the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove,” she continued.

Under the AFCP small grant program, CyArk and its local partners were awarded a $125,000 grant to document a series of shrines within the Osun Osogbo Sacred Grove and provide training to local professionals to build capacity in digital documentation skills and cultural heritage management.”

She recalled that the Busanyi Shrine had been severely flooded in the past, insisting that the 3D digital documentation of the shrine was a necessary first step in providing the most accurate record of the current conditions of the site in order to effectively plan a restoration project to increase the site’s resilience during a natural disaster or extreme weather conditions, noting that this would allow the Busanyi Shrine to remain intact.

She said the US and Nigeria were actively cooperating on ways to protect Nigeria’s cultural heritage through projects like the one in the Sacred Grove.

“We’re also initiating new ways,” she added, “including discussion of a bilateral agreement that would impose restrictions on the importation into the United States of prohibited cultural property.”

“The agreement would also encourage both countries’ public and private cultural institutions, as well as law enforcement agencies, to collaborate on repatriating trafficked objects and fostering cultural exchanges.”