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Business

Edo State to build Museum, set for more Benin Bronze returns in 2021

Edo prepares to build a museum, as discussions were underway about the returns of several Benin Bronze from abroad.

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Edo State to build Museum, set for more Benin Bronze returns in 2021, Over 13,000 MSMEs benefit from Edo State Government fund 

The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, has disclosed that his administration is bracing up to build a museum, as discussions are underway for several returns of Benin Bronze from western museums and private collectors in 2021 in a move that is capable of jump-starting broader movements across Africa and beyond, seeking pre colonial- era loot.

This was disclosed by the Governor during a discussion with the press in the capital city of Edo State, Benin City.

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According to a News report by Reuters, Governor Obaseki disclosed that plans had been drawn up to build a centre to store and study the returned artefacts by the end of 2021, and a permanent museum by 2025.

He said that the whole Black Lives Matter movement has added some urgency to the conversation and emphasized that the worldwide anti-racism protests had forced Western nations to re-examine their colonial pasts, which played a huge part in advancing negotiations on finding a compromise.

However, several museums including the British Museum and the Museum of Ethnology in Vienna have formed a Benin Dialogue Group – to discuss the sculptures and work on displaying them in a museum in Benin City, with some of them officially on loan.

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What you should know

According to sources, the Governor disclosed that British soldiers seized thousands of metal castings and sculptures during a raid on the then separate Kingdom of Benin in 1897.

The “bronzes” – actually copper alloy relief sculptures, many showing court figures – were auctioned off and then spread among institutions from New Zealand to Germany and the United States, with the biggest collection in London.

However, despite several demands for repatriation, the British Museum resisted calls for the full repatriation of its collection of bronzes – as well as of Ethiopia’s ‘Magdala treasures’ and Greece’s ‘Elgin marbles’ – often citing legislation banning it from disposing of artefacts.

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What they are saying

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In a statement by the British Museum on the discussions, and also on repatriation of artefacts, they said, “There is the question of the objects that will feature in the new museum in Benin and how many will be determined through discussion with our Nigerian colleagues.”

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However, Governor Obaseki said, “A private collector returned one item in August and four others had expressed interest in recent months in doing the same as early as next year.

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An independent trust has been set up to raise funds including representatives of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the royal palace of the Oba of Benin. Funds will be raised over the next two years to build the three-storey Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA), and work on a research office to store the first returns which would start in March,” the Governor said.

Omokolade Ajayi is a graduate of Economics, and a certificate holder of the CFA Institute’s Investment Foundation Program. He is a business analyst, and equity market researcher, with wealth of experience as a retail investor. He is a business owner and a stern advocate of Financial literacy, who believes in the huge economic prospect of the Nigerian Payment channels and Fintech space.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Anonymous

    November 13, 2020 at 11:43 am

    If they are smart, they should leave those things still in the hands of the present western custodian of the artifacts.
    Since we don’t yet know where the wind is going to blow in that evil contraption called a country.

    They can hold it and be paying rent over them to Edo community.
    Thank me later 🙏

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