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Nsude Pyramids: Ancient Africa’s Lost Heritage |The Republican News

Nsude Pyramids: Black Africa's lost heritage

Unless the Nigerian government takes ap­propriate steps to re­construct the once-famous pyramids located at Nsude, Enugu state, that historical monument will remain, per­haps, one of black Africa’s greatest losses to world civ­ilization. Appeals have been made in the past by the com­munity leaders as well as his­torians, for the restoration of the circular pyramids which bear striking resemblance to the Step Pyramid of Saqqara, in Egypt.
A report on such monu­ments published in Wikipe­dia describes the Nsude pyr­amids as “one of the unique structures of Igbo culture”, though all that were known of them were tales about how they were used in times past for surveillance against hos­tile neighbours during in­ter-community wars. Now, scholars the world over be­lieve there were more to them, with the possibility they may rewrite the history of black Africa and provide a more compelling attraction for tourism in Nigeria. So far, little has been done by way of response, for the restoration of the monument.
It is still a mystery why the pyramids were constructed in the first place, for how long and what technology was em­ployed, if any. Historical ac­counts say the pyramids were first constructed in the top­most altitudes of the com­munity’s boundary villages at Umuaka and Ugwuto to pro­vide easy surveillance of the movement of hostile neigh­bours. While only one large pyramid stood at Umuaka overlooking Ngwo and parts of Nkanu land, a set of 10 pyr­amids–standing five-a-side on two rows–was located at Ugwuto, overlooking Owa in Ezeagu Local Government Area. While this surveillance theory is the most believable considering the communi­ty’s fame in inter-community wars in times past, other ac­counts, however, attribute the construction of the monu­ments to the memory of Uto-Nsude, one of the communi­ty’s deities. The third theory that the pyramids may have served as furnaces for iron smelting lacks credibility as not much by way of histo­ry has linked Nsude and the larger Udi area to iron smelt­ing.
Europeans who carried out extensive geographical sur­vey and explorations for sol­id mineral in various places around the Udi hills had first ‘discovered’ the great pyra­mids. The first discovery was credited to one Luke Walter, a British who led one of the ex­ploration missions in 1891. It is either Mr. Walters did not document his ‘discovery’ probably because he did not consider it of historical sig­nificance, or whatever he did has been lost in time. It was not until 1935 that Mr. G.I. Jones took what is, perhaps, the only surviving photo­graphs of the historical mon­uments and after printing them, scribbled behind them what has today become vital information. His photographs were not made public until a few years back when they were published online by his estate. Apart from oral histor­ical accounts of the pyramids, the limited information pro­vided online are reproduced from notes written by Jones on the black and white photo­graphs he took in 1935.
Recently, the Nsude com­munity leader Mr. Emman­uel Ozoani had ordered an inspection of the site of the set of pyramids in Ugwuto, with a view to renewing the call for their restoration. The pyramids which were said to have been maintained an­nually with red mud mixed with cow dung, were robbed of this by the advent of mo­dernity and sheer negligence. It is believed that since the late 1930s, they were not pre­served in any way and have over the years been totally de­graded. The visit, however, re­vealed that it was still possible to fully restore them.
According to another community leader, Mr. Gab Ozougwu, the lone pyramid at Umuaka stood at the east­ern entry point where the town had maintained the mysterious Iga gate. While he explained that it has al­most been submerged by ero­sion that has since developed a gully at the site, Ozougwu who now heads the village union, says it has been a sub­ject of enquiries by some for­eigners in recent years. He disclosed that one of his pre­decessors, well aware of the historical relevance of the pyramid, constructed a min­iature version in front of the Umuaka community hall at Obu Anukwu in the 1970s. The replica made of con­crete cement, still stands to this day.
It still remains a mystery when and how the pyramids were built. The recent dis­covery of an ancient circular monolithic stone structure site in Mpumalanga, South Africa, is thought to be at least 75,000 years old, pre-dating any other such struc­ture on earth, according to South African author and politician Michael Tellinger, but no records are available on the actual period when the Nsude Pyramids came into being. Archaelogists be­lieve the clay/mud pyramids may have been built at the same time the first or second wave of Egyptian pyramids were built by the Nubians. While those great pyramids of Egypt, the archaeological site on the Giza Plateau on the outskirts of Cairo which consists the massive sculpture known as the Great Sphinx, have historically become symbols of Egyptian culture, Nigeria and the Black race have not benefitted cultural­ly from the Nsude pyramids. Listed as one of the Wonders of the World, the Egyptian pyramids are by far the old­est of them and the only one still in existence. Unlike the Nsude pyramids which were made of tons of hardened red mud, construction theories say Egyptian pyramids were built by moving huge stones from a quarry and dragging and lifting them into place.
Built during the reign of Fourth Dynasty Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu over a 20 year period ending in 2540 B.C., the 2.3 million cubic meters pyramids at Giza, with base measurement of 227.5 me­ters and vertical height of 137.2 meters, is believed to have involved 40,000-60,000 labourers working on its con­struction for three months every year. The pyramids have turned tourism into Egypt’s economic mainstay as one of the leading sourc­es of income. With approxi­mately 14.7 million tourists visiting Egypt, the tourism sector at its peak in 2010 em­ployed about 12% of Egypt’s workforce, and providing rev­enues of nearly $12.5 billion.
If restored, the Nsude Pyr­amids which once stood with circumferences of about six­ty feet and a pinnacle reach­ing up to 30 feet, according to information obtained online, may yet rewrite Black Africa’s history. More importantly, in terms of potentials for tour­ism in Nigeria, it is a gold mine waiting to be tapped. (The Authority)

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