March 28, 2007

African tribal artifacts on display at museum

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. – The University Museum at Southern Illinois University Carbondale is displaying selections from its Gerald and Lois Neher Collection of African tribal artifacts from northeast Nigeria.

The artifacts are on display in the International Gallery until Aug. 3. The museum is in Faner Hall.

The Nehers, residents of Anna since 1971, worked in Nigeria as missionaries of the Church of the Brethren from 1954 to 1968. Neher, an agricultural specialist, worked with farmers while his wife taught English, nutrition and hygiene. The Nehers lived in the villages they worked in, raising all four of their children there. Photographs of the family are part of the new exhibit.

When the family returned to the U.S., they brought back many examples of crafts from the Nigerian tribes. The crafts on display reflect a period of transition, as the Nigerian people had begun to switch to contemporary materials. The exhibit includes cast brass pieces, tools, calabashes (gourds) jewelry, hand-woven fabric, baskets and a leopard skin. Photographs taken by Neher accompany many of the objects.

Today, Gerald Neher is completing the editing of his manuscript on the Chibuk people of Nigeria.