The Archaeological Association of Nigeria (AAN) accused German archaeologists of looting; then the Goethe University, Frankfurt archaeologists refuted the allegations; then the AAN repeated its claims.
An attack dog for the Germans
Now, the President of the AAN, Dr. Zacharys Anger Gundu, has commented on my review of the AAN’s repeated claims…
Dr. Sam Hardy, I thought you were not an attack dog for the Germans, now that I know, there is no reason to waste time on you. The time when your type could intimidate with a wave of the hand are gone. When Africans finally take the study of their heritage in their hands, you may have to find another laboratory for your arrogance. This will be very soon. Sooner than you think.
I will waste no time on this comment (though, incidentally, the laboratory for my arrogance was Europe). A friend and colleague, who works on the illicit trade in British antiquities, judged the attack dog insult ‘quite an accolade’.
I am very sorry that you feel that way.
You can see from my publicly-accessible work that I have condemned colonialism and imperialism. My doctoral research exposed (European) archaeologists who had indirectly facilitated and directly driven looting.
I want to believe you. If you provided evidence, I would support you. I beg you to provide evidence, so that I can campaign for you.
Then, Dr. Gundu made another comment. I believe it deserves prominence, and an answer, so I have reproduced it in full here:
Dr. Sam Hardy, I do not need you to campaign for me.
I completely agree. Dr. Gundu very successfully promoted his claims with his own media campaign; his claims were presented in national newspapers and international news websites, and international professional news websites and discussion lists.
What evidence are you looking for? The Germans in every publication they have so far written on the Nok acknowledge Professor Jemkur of the University of Jos, as a partner/collaborator(You are a scholar so go and check the articles).
Suddenly, Jemkur and the University of Jos are not in the project again and you have the temerity to say University of Jos was involved with the Germans in another project? Which project is this? When did it start and when did it end? You think we have mud in the head? The Germans talk of the Nok project involving students and staff of other universities, and we ask who are these students Who are these staff and which universities are we talking about here and you ignore that in your so called analysis?.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe University at Frankfurt am Main (JWGU), Eberhard Karls University at Tübingen (EKUT), the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) and others worked on the Ecological and Cultural Change in West and Central Africa Project from 1st December 2003 until 30th November 2009. In 2005, the project extended to include Nok culture, and the University of Jos joined the Joint Research Project (JRP).
This kind of interaction is precisely the problem. The AAN uses sarcasm, innuendo, insults and rhetorical questions; it insinuates other people have negative motives and engage in negative activities; and it questions other people’s effort and skill. But the AAN is completely wrong on every detail. Furthermore, all of the relevant information was publicly available. So, either the AAN did not try to find the answer, but posed the innuendo-laden question anyway; or the AAN knew the answer but posed the innuendo-laden question anyway.
Dr. Hardy, if your claim of condemning colonialism and imperialism can be taken seriously, I invite you to do a study of the German project in NE Nigeria(before they came to Nok), do a count of German nationals who got their PhDs from that project and take note that out of many Germans who got their PhDs from this work, only one Nigerian got a PhD from this work!
Why only in north-eastern Nigeria? Why only before the Nok project?
You will also discover that when Breunig was in NE Nigeria, he supervised a Nigerian who was doing his PhD in Frankfurt and refused to allow this student participate in the NE project.
(Dr. Gundu, could you e-mail me this student’s contact details, please? Obviously, I would protect their privacy and confidentiality; I would preserve their anonymity. If they could provide evidence of their claims, I would publish their claims here.)
[Update (28th March 2012): in yet another example of unscholarly behaviour, Dr. Gundu has refused to provide contact details for the alleged source of this claim: he wants me to search for evidence for his baseless claim. (I would investigate a claim if there were evidence for it.) Gundu commented, ‘I will not give you the name of the student I made reference to. If you have a research position as you claim, DO the research. You have access to Peter Breunig. Ask him and tell him that is what I say.’]
Even when he was short of hands in the project, he would go and invite Belgian scholars to come to Nigeria with him. His explanation is that those funding him required him to seek extra hands in Germany, then European Union countries, then America before Africa.
I think that’s European Union law. So the AAN could criticise the EU for passing the law, but not EU citizens for obeying the law.
The only Africans worthy of participation on this type of project are laborers and guides.
And Prof. Jemkur… And the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments…
And you deny imperialism here and ask me for evidence?
When someone makes a claim, I ask for evidence.
Hardy, you have to do better than this..
I have seen through you and what I see is very cheap!!! Europeans arrogantly use Africa as laboratories to breed specialists and leave us with nothing. Can I go to your country and do archaeology the way these fellows are going about here?
Foreign archaeologists with work permits and excavation licences (which include risk assessments and ethics evaluations) can work in the UK/EU.
How can they claim to come here to study our past when we have to beg to be part of that process. It is only today that the AAN was able to cite the MOU with the Germans and my God. its a shameful document. Of course people like you will argue that we signed it willingly !!!!! Get hold of it and see how exploitative the Germans are and how they are taking rogue advantage of us as a people.
(Dr. Gundu, could you e-mail me a copy of the MOU, please? I will publish it here for open peer review.)
[Update (28th March 2012): Dr. Gundu has refused to e-mail me a copy of the Memorandum of Understanding. Gundu commented, ‘I will also not send you the MOU…. Ask… Breunig to send it to you so that you Europeans will do your kangaroo peer review.’]
You support the collection of looted pieces of terracotta for dating and analysis? What type of archaeology is that? The Germans do not lack samples for dating and analysis here. The only way one can explain the dating and analysis of looted samples ‘bought’ from the local people is if these dates are being used to authenticate other looted terracotta!!!!. You should know this!!!.
As noted by then Director of Research, Planning and Publications for the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (and then President of the West African Archaeological Association (WAAA)), Dr. Musa Hambolu, they analysed looted antiquities ‘to understand their styles, techniques of production and motifs’.
Before the Germans finally built their research station in Janjala, they had promised first to build it in Nok, before long, they moved to build it in Kwoi where the community even donated land for it. The first class chief(Kpop Ham) was involved. Suddenly they moved to Janjala and started building without informing the Nok nor Kwoi communities. Prof Breunig even stopped picking the Kpop Ham’s calls. Tell me how ethical this is? If another archaeologist goes to these two communities, will they trust him or her at all?
This has been discussed in previous posts. The Nok and Kwoi were competing for the research station so, in order to avoid rivalry and conflict between those two communities, the Frankfurt team went to a third community, Janjala.
Then we come to the vexed question of Julius Berger. Why on earth will this company deny Peter Breunig et al if their relationship is what Peter claims it is?You say you are a campaigner against looting. You may wish to note that Abuja the Federal Capital territory has produced more of the looted terracotta from Nigeria than any where in the Nok valley proper. Is it a coincidence that Julius Berger is the major contractor in the Federal Capital Territory, constructing highways and building estates?
Correlation is not causation. Just because Julius Berger operates in Abuja, and there is looting in Abuja, it does not mean that Julius Berger is responsible for the looting.
There may be looting during development (because it exposes archaeological sites); and there may be more development in Abuja than elsewhere; thus, there may be more looting in Abuja than elsewhere. And Julius Berger may be responsible for much of the development in Abuja; but that does not mean Julius Berger is responsible for the looting.
Julius Berger may not provide reasonable security, and thus be responsible for the sites’ vulnerability to looting; but there is no evidence of that. And even then Julius Berger would not have ‘funded’ the looting.
Dr. Hardy, you know well that when Europeans exhibit African materials in their countries, they make a lot of money. Does it not make sense to you that the countries of origin for these materials and the communities from where these materials come from should also get some percentage of these monies? Or Europeans are the only people who know how to enjoy money? Does it not make sense to you that if Breunig and the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in Nigeria are having an MOU over a project as big as the Nok project, the MOU should clarify intellectual property/copy right issues? Or do you think we have mud in our heads and cannot fathom the importance of these ?
I agree that states should use intellectual property/copyright in ways that generate income for the community.
You have made up your mind, and its alright. You have not disappointed me. Even when I speak on behalf of the Association, you still doubt me because I have been known to have opposed the German project. Now Dr. Hardy, I did this openly and at a conference of scholars and you call it an ‘attack’!!! An attempt to dilute the scholarly quality of the paper I co authored with Abigail.
I called it an attack because it used the same techniques as the AAN’s letters: it asked innuendo-laden rhetorical questions (without any evidence) in order to imply guilt.
I end this long note by telling you that as of now, the Peter Breunigs of this world and the Sam Hardys come into Africa [to] do archaeology with ONLY one advantage, that is money and equipment. Once we realize that our heritage is far more than your money and the facilities that go with it, we will call your bluff. The time will not be long.
Since you want to discuss my work and wealth without any evidence, I will give you the evidence:
- I have never worked in Africa, or worked on anything African.
- I have studied and worked in the UK, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey.
- I have eight months’ excavation experience – one-and-a-half months paid (slightly above minimum wage), six-and-a-half months unpaid (which I funded by saving money while doing other minimum-wage jobs).
- I have six years’ research experience – five years paid (slightly above minimum wage), one year unpaid (which I funded by saving money during the earlier years’ research). I am very aware how fortunate I was to get any funding at all; but I was not and am not wealthy.
- Currently, I am unemployed; I have a research position, but no wage. I expect that I will make a living by teaching English rather than archaeology.