Obaseki hosts German officials as Edo gets set to receive artefacts
Envoy express delight at return of stolen Benin bronzes
Governor Godwin Obaseki’s efforts to retrieve Benin artefacts to the state after several decades of losing them in the British expedition is finally yielding results, as Germany has hinted that it will return the first set of relics next year.
Obaseki, who has been championing the campaign even before he became governor of Edo State, received German officials on Wednesday in Benin City to finalise arrangements for the return of the artefacts.
The German delegation also visited the Benin monarch, Oba Ewuare II yesterday to accentuate the country’s cooperation with the palace.
Obaseki said the German delegation’s visit was a major milestone towards restoring the heritage of Edo people and preserving their sense of identity and culture.
To assuage global stakeholders’ concern over the safety of the artefacts when returned, Obaseki reassured that work on the Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) would be expedited to warehouse the artefacts and was rallying international partners to ensure realisation of the project.
He also facilitated the meeting between the German officials and Federal Government agencies in Abuja, where the Minister of Culture and Information, Lai Mohammed, discussed with the visiting party.
Receiving the visitors, Mohammed commended Obaseki’s commitment to repatriating the Benin bronzes around the world, noting that the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) had initiated dialogue with several European museums, the Benin palace and the Edo State Government on the return of the bronzes looted from the Benin Kingdom in 1897.
MEANWHILE, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation in Berlin, Herrmann Parzinger, said Germany was delighted to return the bronzes that were looted during the 1897 invasion of Benin City.
Parzinger, who is also chairmen of museums holders of Benin bronzes, was among the five-man delegation to Edo State, made the remark while speaking with newsmen in Benin City.
While describing the visit as historic, he noted that it would open a vista of cultural relations between Germany and Nigeria, adding that the foundation was desirous to learn from the Benin Kingdom on its bronzes.
Earlier, Director-General of the Directorate General for Culture and Communications of the German Foreign Office, Andreas Görgen, who led the delegation, said the visit was to testify to the willingness of Germany, the Federal government of Nigeria and the five museums holders of Benin bronzes to restore the artifacts to Benin.
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