By Akpan David, Calabar
In Calabar, capital of Cross River State, there is a different kind of museum where strange artifacts are kept and are pulling thousands of Nigerians and foreigners from all walks of life.
These artifacts evoke strange powers leading to innumerable positive happenings in the lives of visitors who flock there daily to see them,
That was the claim of one excited Ambassador, Franklyn Makanga, a diplomat from Gabon. “If not why will I spend a fortune to fly into Nigeria often”, he asked.
There are two major public museums in Calabar, including the one managed by the Nigeria National Commission for Museum and Monuments located at former office of Lord Luggard, the colonial master, in the Old Residency, which was the first seat of Nigeria’s national government.
It is opposite the official residence of the deputy governor of the state. The other is the Slave History Museum situated in the famous Marina Resort complex in Calabar built by former governor, Mr Donald Duke.
But it is doubtful that the two eminent public museums command the sort of attention and human traffic enjoyed by the BCS Royal Museum owned by a religious leader, His Holiness Olumba Olumba Obu.
Following the increasing popularity of the BCS Royal Museum, delegations from the Nigeria National Museum and Monuments (NNMM) have visited it twice to pave way for the visit of its director general, Mallam Yusuf Abdulla Usman sometimes soon.
Director of the Museum, Parkson Brown Edjeketa said when the delegations from NNMM visited them for formal recognition and accreditation, they were not only pleased with what they saw but assured that, in order to encourage spring up of serious minded private museums in the country, they will facilitate its registration. They assured that it would encourage their boss to equally visit it soon.
The Royal Museum situates within the sprawling complex of an international spiritual organization, Brotherhood of the Cross and Star in Calabar, founded by Leader Olumba Olumba Obu in 1957.
Edjeketa, an indigene of Warri in Delta State Nigeria who studied and engaged in religious tourism in Norway for many years, said the museum was founded over 15 years ago.
Hear Edjeketa, “The BCS Royal Museum is privately owned. It was founded on 3rd August 2003. The initial collections were the teaching of the founder. Today there are volumes of these exquisite materials for your spiritual well-being and development.
“The Museum houses very rare and unheard of cultural properties whose content include celestial custom and culture capable of solving all human predicaments. It also serves as guardian of humanity’s treasures for future generations.”
According to Edjeketa who did not initially study museum management or arts, said it is indeed one with a huge difference which cannot be found anywhere else.
“Because of the kind of artifacts it custodies, this museum is unique in every sense of the word. The materials here exude power and mystery because they have or belong to a being who is supernatural, and spiritually influential.
Edjeketah said that people who have heard much about the prowess of the spiritual leader, and may never have met him, are those that have readily besieged the museum.”
Many of the visitors, he said, are “religious tourists, researchers and scholars who come from many countries and states in Nigeria. We do receive larger number of visitors in a week.
He said when visitors come they are always eager to visit the section called Holy Father’s Sanctuary to see and touch the soutanes, religious apparels worn by Obu.
According to him, the dreaded ark of covenant, the chairs he sat on, the mysterious crucifix donated to him by some Israelites decades ago which was later stolen from its custody because it was reputed to evoke strange powers that could help the one, are all well kept.
The visitors also want to see the effigy of Obu which reportedly spoke to an adherent, he said.
Curator of the Royal Museum, Obuma Etim a k.a Makamba also explained that there are ancient historical pictures, sceptres, assorted crowns, ark of covenant, handbells, and that many of these items have inexplicable spiritual effects. She said the museum has many departments.
A resident of Calabar who is an occasional visitor to the museum, Madam Etido Nseobong, in her late 40s, claimed that a moulded image of the religious leader, an effigy, spoke to her when she saw it in the museum. This claim has reportedly attracted more interest by members of the public, too.
A Black American missionary who now resides in Calabar, Jerry Whiters from South Carolina, United States of America said she, too, has visited the museum more than twice.
Whiters said, “The feelings I have felt on the different occasions I visited it have remained indelible and awesome, so that I got to return there again and again. I have heard so much about this religious leader who is pulling many Americans like myself and other peoples to this town. I needed to see things for myself”.
Another visitor, this reporter met, was Eric Andersen who is now the commissioner for Culture and tourism development in Cross River State.
Eric said he was surprised that such a place existed in Calabar. He said it was as a result of the influx of Nigerians and foreign nationals that constantly stream into the place in their numbers that has caught the attention of the state government to want to see how to partner with the museum and the larger Brotherhood organisation to boost the state tourism drive.
He said government delegation will soon visit the birthplace of the religious leader, where there are also historical artefacts, including House of Nativity, mysterious stream with claims to have curative powers, so that they can conclude areas of partnership.
It is understood that the former governor of the state, Mr Donald Duke takes delight in calling at the museum now and again.