Residents of the historical Libyan town, Gharyan are hoping tourism can help restore their heritage and reposition the town as a tourism powerhouse in the North African country.
There are a number of unique underground houses in Libya, one of which is Gharyan’s which was hewn into the mountainside centuries ago but has been abandoned for some time.
“My great-great-great-great-great-grandfather dug this yard 355 years ago,” said Al-Arbi Belhaj, who owns one of the oldest houses in the mixed Berber-Arab town south of Tripoli. His ancestor would have used a “tajouk” pickaxe to chip away at the ground before loading the rubble into a woven date-palm “gouffa” basket to carry it away, he said.
Dug deep into the arid Nafusa mountains at around 700 meters (2,300 feet) above sea level, the home would have been protected against the scorching summers that bring temperatures up to 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit). It would have also stayed warm throughout the often snowy winters.
The climate in Gharyan is of hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh), with blazing summers and cool winters; its winters being one of the coldest in Libya. Due to its winter months being relatively 5º degrees colder than Tripoli, the locality sees a cooler variation of said climate, though its higher elevation also means that the town gets a dozen millimeters more precipitation than Libya’s capital city.
Repentant Germany signs accord to return stolen Nigerian artifacts, Benin Bronzes
Germany and Nigeria have signed a memorandum of understanding for the return of centuries-old sculptures known as the Benin Bronzes that were taken from Africa in the 19th century.
The memorandum of understanding was signed by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Culture Minister Claudia Roth, as well as Nigeria’s Culture Minister Lai Mohammed and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Zubairo Dada.
The German Foreign Minister admitted “it was wrong to take the bronzes; it was wrong to keep them for 120 years.”
Two pieces of artifacts, a head of a king and a relief slab depicting a king with four attendants were handed over to commemorate the return of the pieces.
“This is just the beginning of more than 1,000 pieces from the Kingdom of Benin that are still in German museums, and they all belong to the people of Nigeria,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said. “It was wrong to take the bronzes; it was wrong to keep them for 120 years.”
The bronzes “are some of Africa’s greatest treasures, but they are also telling the story of colonial violence,” Baerbock said.
African arts litter many museums in Europe and North America. Some of the countries have sought to resolve ownership disputes over objects looted during colonial times.
One of such museums, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, an authority that oversees many of Berlin’s museums, announced last year that it was beginning formal negotiations on returning pieces that are in its collection.
According to washingtonpost, hundreds of African artifacts were sold to collections such as the Ethnological Museum in Berlin, which has one of the world’s largest groups of historical objects from the Kingdom of Benin, estimated to include about 530 items, including 440 bronzes. Many of them date from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
Historyextra reports that Benin Bronzes are a collection of more than 3,000 figures and other decorative pieces looted by the British in 1897. The artifacts are housed in at least 161 public and private collections scattered around the world.
First ever African Fashion exhibition debuts in the UK Saturday
The first ever African Fashion exhibition which has been touted to be UK’s most extensive exhibition of African fashion artistry is set to debut in London on Saturday, July 2, according to the show organisers.
The epoch making African Fashion event which is aimed at showcasing designers from the black continent, as well as exoose Africa’s diverse heritage and cultures, which will open at London’s prestigious Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, is also the country’s first exhibition dedicated to the medium.
Apart from the fashion show, there will also be an exhibition are African objects, sketches, photos and film from across the continent, starting from the African liberation years in the 1950s to 1980s to up-and-coming contemporary designers, according to the event organizers.
The project curator, Elisabeth Murray, in a statement, said the scene is set with a section on “African Cultural Renaissance”, highlighting protest posters and literature from independence movements that developed in conjunction with fashion.
“The Vanguard is the central attraction, displaying iconic works by well-known African designers including Niger’s Alphadi, Nigeria’s Shade Thomas-Fahm and Kofi Ansah of Ghana.
“Over 250 objects are on display for the African Fashion exhibition, with approximately half of these drawn from the museum’s collection, including 70 new acquisitions.
“Many of the garments on show are from the personal archives of a selection of iconic mid-twentieth century African designers with one of the highlight being the centre-piece made by Moroccan fashion designer Artsi Ifrach, called “A Dialogue Between Cultures” which was Inspired by the British trench coat and headscarf,” Murray said.
“The conversations and collaborations that have shaped the making of the Africa Fashion exhibition are a testbed for new equitable ways of working together that allow us to imagine and call into being the V&A of the future,” she added.
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