Benin Monarch is cultural, spiritual owner of Benin artifacts – Institute
BY ANDY EGBON
BENIN CITY – The Smithsonian Institution, USA, has told the Benin Monarch, His Royal Majesty, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare 11 that the Benin artifacts held in the National Museum of African Art belong to Benin kingdom.
The institute’s affirmation was contained in a letter to the monarch that was signed by its Secretary, Lonnie Bunch 111.
“I am keenly aware of the interests of the Royal Court in the Benin artifacts held in our collection.
“After thorough provenance research, the Smithsonian has determined that a number of artifacts held in the National Museum of African Art originated from the British invasion of the Benin Kingdom and the looting of the Royal Palace in 1897.
“We recognise that your great grandfather, Oba Ovonramwen and the Benin Kingdom are the cultural and spiritual owners of these traditional artifacts.”
The institution said that “In November, the Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Ngaire Blankenberg met with Prince Aghatise Erediauwa to discuss this topic.
“It is our intention to transfer legal ownership of these objects as soon as practicable to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, as the representatives of the Nigerian government in matters pertaining to cultural patrimony.”