The Oluwo of Iwoland, Oba Abdul-Rasheed Adewale Akanbi, Telu I, has concluded plans to engrave and sculpt figures of prominent black personalities that contributed to modern culture in and outside Africa on stone
The project will be similar to South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore accommodating engraved faces of four great past American presidents – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Briefing journalists in Iwo about the project, Oba Akanbi said there was no better time than now to celebrate black African leaders across the world for their immense contributions which he said had laid a foundation for modern culture and serve as a catalyst for growth and recognition.
According to him, Mount Rushmore National Memorial park in the Black Hills of South Dakota, United States of America, which construction started in October 4, 1927, is a must-see vacation experience for everyone.
The Oluwo, disclosed that those to feature in the project are the likes of the late black American civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jnr; the anti-apartheid hero and first black South African President, Nelson Mandela; the first Ghanaian Prime Minister and President, Kwame Nkrumah; the first Prime Minister of Independent Nigeria, Tafawa Balewa; the leading figure of Nigerian modern nationalism and first President of independent Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikwe; the late sage and leading Nigerian nationalist, Obafemi Awolowo; the former Nigerian Army General and twice former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo; and former governor of Lagos State and Nigeria’s leading national political leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The first class traditional ruler, who noted that the project will be purposeful for its historical, social and economic values, maintained that “this will be the first time to use our key black figures to serve a multi-faceted agenda that will attract investment, jobs and opportunities at various levels for our people.”
He further said: “I can’t wait to see this project coming to fruition. Time has come for us to celebrate our black leaders of note in all parts of Africa and beyond for their immense contributions to the world development, peace and stability. I think many of them have been ignored for far too long and not given their due recognition. I want to create a space in a strategic Iwo mountainous forest to assemble and engrave faces of these great world leaders for tourists all over the world to come and listen to their stories to be told and re-told over and over again.
“It is important for our people, particularly the youths to know what these figures stood and stand for in times of misrule and oppression. For example, Mandela and King, Jnr stood tenaciously against oppressive tendencies. Nkruma and Azikwe were rallying point for nationalist struggle and Obafemi Awolowo and Bola Ahmed Tinubu remain trail blazers, managers of human resources, producers of world class leaders and promoters of good governance as well as models for service to humanity. Obasanjo set standard for courage and known for taking far reaching national decisions while in government and is always available as mechanism for resolving conflicts around the world. Balewa as Prime Minister of Nigeria played important roles in the Africa's formative indigenous rule. He was an important leader in the formation of the Organization of African Unity and creating a cooperative relationship with French speaking African countries. So, we want to encourage our youths to learn and benefit from these key figures’ wisdom, skills and acumen.
“It will also surely be a memorable experience for whoever cares to venture to come to the place we are about creating for these noblest among the nobles. We are using the project to bring to the consciousness of the world that the black Africa has the capacity to emerge a contending power with its enormous human resources with which some of the figures featuring in the project have laid a foundation for. We will also use the project to put Iwo on a world map, create opportunities for direct and indirect employment for my people and generate revenue for the state of Osun.”
Oba Akanbi said he had started consulting great sculptors and carvers to participate in the design of the project, adding that the other phases, including constructions of shopping malls and hotels as well as other facilities to complement project will soon be unveiled.