Recall that April 18 is annually observed as the International Day for Monuments and Sites (IDMS). It aims to bring global attention to the need to conserve monuments and sites as our cultural heritage and to celebrate the diversity of heritage.
Speaking with travel journalists on the theme of the day in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State capital on Sunday, Comrade Piriye Kiyaramo, who also doubles chairman of Bayelsa Travel Writers’ Corps and vice chairman of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria (FTAN), South South region, reiterated the urgent need for relevant agencies and departments to pay necessary attention to the aesthetics of monuments, heritage sites and public buildings in their states with a view to making them appealing, accessible and open to the public to enhance the tourism offerings of the particular destinations.
According to him: “These public spaces and public buildings, including monuments and heritage sites exhibit the characteristics of great public spaces, while connecting people with each other,” adding that: “The key to restoring life to public places and to our communities as a whole, is to understand that most people today have more options in terms of where to visit.”
The ATPN South South interim Coordinator who regretted the lack of maintenance culture among government agencies and departments in giving due attention to public spaces, including parks, malls, beaches and government properties, noted that: “People are not just out in public spaces because they have to, but because they love to be there to connect with friends and colleagues. People can equally choose to go elsewhere, if the place doesn’t appeal to them.”
He noted that planned cities are often built around iconic infrastructures such as historic buildings, like Parliaments, Government Houses, Court premises and religious places of worship like temples, churches and mosques, among other monuments and heritage centres, adding that monuments are frequently used to improve the appearance of a city or location and as such should be made most appealing and accessible to tourists to generate revenue.
Comrade Kiyaramo, a member of the Tourism 100 Club of Nigeria, Abuja, said though the history of a place may involve various views, pointed out that the conservation of cultural heritage requires careful examination of the past and present with a view to making provision for the future.
“The main purpose of monuments is very often to impress or awe. Older cities have monuments placed at strategic locations, just as many countries use ancient monument or similar terms for the official designation of protected structures or archeological sites which may originally have been ordinary domestic houses or other buildings.
“Monuments are also often designed to convey historical or political information, and they can thus develop an active socio-political potency.
“They can be used to educate the populace about important events or figures from the past, such as in the renaming of the old General Post Office Building in New York City to the James A. Farley Building, after James Farley, former Postmaster General of the United States.
“To fulfill its informative and educative functions a monument needs to be open to the public, which means that its spatial dimension, as well as its content can be experienced by the public, and be sustainable.
“Acknowledging global calls for greater inclusion and recognition of diversity, this Day invites all of us to reflect on, interpret and review existing narratives. One way to participate is by visiting UNESCO World Heritage sites virtually through the online exhibits on Google Arts & Culture.
“Structures created for other purposes that have been made notable by their age, size or historic significance may also be regarded as monuments,” he explained.