Punch Newspapers Highlights Esie: Nigeria’s First Museum

Esie is the first museum in Nigeria established in 1945. The museum houses over 1,500 soap images; the largest in the world.

The Soap stone images were discovered in 1775 and it is believed that the images were there long before they were discovered in 1775.

In 1933, the images were brought to the limelight through a missionary, H.G Ramshaw.

According to oral history, the Elsie people were said to have migrated from the Old Oyo Empire and settled down at Oko Odo.

However, due to the lack of water there during the dry season, they sent Baragbon to help them find a better place and he came to Elsie – a thick forest at the time.

Baragbon was the one who found the statues with a King in the middle. He went back to his people and gave them the report.

The King of the town followed him to the place and after seeing the stones, the King ran back. And for that reason, the Elsie people decided that future Kings do not visit the soap stone and it has been so till this day.

They consulted an oracle who told them that the stones used to be human beings in the past and it was God who turned them to soap stone images due to an act of disobedience. And till date, the Elsie people believe the soap stones are human beings.

However, archaeologists say the soap stones were carved although they don’t know who did it. They gave reasons like- the stones can’t talk like humans and that all the soap stones are in a seated position and that the hidden part of the stone images reveal the carver’s knife.

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