I came across this brilliant travel piece on Aljazeera a couple of days ago. It was written by Femke van Zeiji about a notable building in Calabar, South-South Nigeria, along with the histories it embodies. Worth a read.

“The Old Residency itself, however, could tell stories the museum does not. Like how, about 10 years ago, when looking down the hill, you might see Charles Taylor swinging his racket on the governor’s tennis court while enjoying the asylum the Nigerian government had granted him – and how the former Liberian president disappeared again in 2006 after Nigeria announced an end to its hospitality. Taylor is now serving a 50-year sentence for war crimes in a UK prison.

The Old Residency also served as a prison. At the back of the wooden building rises a white stone annex that used to house the kitchen. It was in the cellar below this kitchen that Oba Ovonramwen of Benin was imprisoned in 1897.

He was the monarch of one of the last independent kingdoms in the region and was resisting annexation by the British. In 1897, a military invasion put an end to that independence. British soldiers burnt down the city of Benin, killing many of its inhabitants and looting its treasures; countless pieces of art – some of which can still be found in museums in Britain and elsewhere outside Nigeria. The string-headed Oba was eventually imprisoned in the cellar that now serves as the computer room of the museum.”

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Read more about it here where from these excerpts were taken.

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