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With little trouble, my driver finds his way. The high walls give away no secrets. As the gate door opens, the perfectly manicured grounds, numerous Crown Cranes and sculptures that depict Nigerian village life come into view. A sculpture of woman greets me, her eyes humbly directed downward, offering the traditional kola nut. Laughter from a deep booming voice directs my attention forward. Without doubt, this would be our host, Prince Shyllon. We are enthusiastically escorted into a lecture room and Prince Shyllon proceeds to explain about his journey and his passion into the world of Nigerian art and provides an overview of his organization, Omooba Yemisi Adedoyin Shyllon Art Foundation (OYASAF), which he founded. After an informative overview of the vision and goals of the organization, we begin our tour.
As we walk through the grounds and into the home/museum, I am struck by the continuous flow of art and nature that nurtures our senses and challenges our imaginations. It is as if we are in a kaleidoscope of shape, texture, and color in a vortex of time. Each visual encounter becomes more awesome and intense. We gaze at works from ancient traditional pieces to modern-day masters such as printmaker Bruce Onobrakpeya, bead paintings of David Dale, impressionist Ben Enwonwu, painter and renown sculptor Okpu Eze, wood sculptures of Lamidi Fakeye, painter Akinola Lasekan, Jimoh Buraimoh, and so many more. (Take a virtual tour of modern Nigerian art at Virtual Museum of Modern Art.)
After nearly three hours, we still have not seen all the rooms. Prince Shyllon with his expansive deep laugh, invites us for ‘small chop’ (a West African expression for snacks). Our group heaves sighs of pleasure; we are ready to sit and allow all we have viewed to be grasped fully. Prince Shyllon’s wife generously offers us meat pies, sausage rolls, and grilled chicken. It is not easy to say good-bye to the synergy of great works of art and history. But we take our leave knowing that Prince Shyllon’s vision is the vital step forward to save Nigerian heritage for Nigerians and the world.