Benin Bronze Artefacts Belong in the Benin Royal Museum; Oba Ewuare II Blows Hot
The Benin Monarch His Royal Majesty Oba Ewuare II the during a press conference held at the royal palace in Benin City on Friday, July 9, 2021 has reiterated the fact the returned Benin Bronze artefact should be kept in the custody of the Benin Royal Museum which is to be cited within the administrative control of the palace.
The Oba of Benin during the press conference called on the Federal Government to take custody of the Benin Bronze artefacts when repatriated until the royal museum is ready. The Oba’s intervention and comments follow the controversy surrounding where the Benin Bronze artefacts, looted by British soldiers during the 1897 invasion of the Benin Kingdom, ought to be kept when they are finally returned.
According to Oba Ewuare II, he said those individuals or institutions dealing with the private company, Legacy Restoration Trust, regarding the return of the looted artefacts does so at their own risk and against the will of the Benin people.
The Oba advised and called on the Executive Governor of Edo State Godwin Obaseki to review the use of a private company to pursue the return of the Benin Bronze artefacts, adding that such items of immense cultural values should be returned where they were taken from.
It could be recalled that on May 18, Germany, through its Director-General of Culture and Communication, Dr Andreas Gorgen, said his country was on a restitution mission to Nigeria to return all Benin Bronze artefacts taken from the Benin Empire. The statement has since drawn questions on where the stolen artefacts (Wooden, Brass, Ivory, Metal and Bronze) collectively known as the Benin Bronze would be returned to.
However, A Federal Government delegate headed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Edo State Government led by the State Executive Governor Mr Godwin Obaseki and the Benin royal family represented by the Crown Prince of Benin Kingdom, Prince Ezelekhae has concluded a meeting in Germany with the German Minister of State for Culture, Prof. Monika Grutters, and Foreign Minister, Mr Heiko Maas towards the return of stolen Benin Bronze artefacts to Edo State.
At the meeting, Lai Mohammed insisted on a full and unconditional return of the 1,130 Benin Bronze artefacts domiciled in German museums, adding that the return should be whole rather than substantial. He said this in the wake of remarks by Grutters that the European nation was ready to make a ‘substantial return’ of the 1,130 looted artefacts.
Nigeria the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed insisted that the issue of provenance, which has to do with the place of origin of the artefacts, should not be allowed to unduly delay the repatriation of the artworks, noting, “That they are known as Benin Bronze Artefacts, which is already a confirmation of their source of origin (which is Benin).”
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