Advancing The World By Studying Nigeria’s Past

A typical ancient wall painting in southeastern Nigeria, which portrays astronomical information. Photo: Johnson Urama

As a fan of TED talks, I recently came across an interesting and relevant topic about Nigerian astronomer Johnson Urama. He argues that African cultural astronomy has been passed down vocally for many generations, and can have great value to its contributions to science. The picture above is described by Urama as: “A typical ancient wall painting in southeastern Nigeria, which portrays astronomical information.”

This is very interesting because of its direct ties to the African Cosmos. To me this is a unique approach because it is one of the very few times that science can be extrapolated from art. I compared this to Karel Nel’s work, The Collapse of Time, that is shown in the African Cosmos exhibition.

Karel Nel The Collapse of Time, 2008 Sprayed pigment & chalk on bonded fibre fabric
Karel Nel
The Collapse of Time, 2008
Sprayed pigment & chalk on bonded fibre fabric

This work exemplifies how science and art go hand in hand in understanding the significance of the piece. For example, in order for these works to be created, science had to have been discovered and contributed for the the artwork to made, as well as understood for the artwork to be understood and interpreted. Also, it is important that Urama claimed that this was a “typical” painting. This shows that the African cultural astronomy knowledge is deep and widespread. Furthermore, it has a lasting impact on understanding African cultural.

As part of Urama’s knowledge, he believes it is his duty to gather the verbal knowledge that has been passed down throughout generations in order for him to incorporate them into Western astronomy. He furthermore urges others to come to Africa to study its indigenous knowledge. Urama concludes that there are over 200 ethnic groups in Nigeria alone, and each contain their unique contributions to astronomy. In other words, the indigenous groups of Africa are a gold mine of astronomical information that is simply unknown by the rest of the world.

Sources:

Eng, Karen. “The Moon’s Path Is Full of Thorns: Fellows Friday with Johnson Urama.” TED Blog The Moons Path Is Full of Thorns Fellows Friday with JohnsonUrama Comments. N.p., 01 Nov. 2013. Web. 24 Feb. 2015.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s