Governor Obaseki: They Are Cultural, Intellectual And Spirited Possessions, Lets Grief their Loss And Returns first Then Engage The King.
Prince EdunAkenzua, left, and Mark Walker in 2014, at a ceremony in Benin City to return two artifacts.He returned an oro bird and a bell to call ancestors stolen by his grandfather.Mark Walker, a doctor from Wales, returned two Bronzes which had been taken by his grandfather, an officer on the 1897 expedition. He received a hero’s welcome in Benin City.Kelvin Ikpea/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Psychologically, to be able to see those artifacts again after more than 100 yearsin the palace will allow objects to serve as physicalreminders and relics through which the works of our forbearers will remain in our lives.
History is clear that these personal artifacts were stolen by the white men from a sacred place, the palacethat signifies the symbolic, moral, and historical legacy of the people.If many of them are returned to their original home,they will stand reverently in the palace.
Keeping them away from the palace in any form means that the original bearers and this Oba have lost them all over again.
Those artifacts have physical, mental, and spiritual values to the custodians of the palace and the entire people of theBenin Kingdom.
Officers from the British raid pose in Benin City in 1897, with some of the bronzes in the background. Captain Walker can be seen in the back row, second from the right. Credit…Capt. Herbert Sutherland Walker, via Mark Walker
People do draw great strength from these aesthetic, physically, emotionally and spiritual symbols, so to immediately commercialize them upon their return from foreign lands could cause a little bit of misperception and moral concerns especially amongst those that see these naturalistic symbols as cultural objects which are personal to the royal house and to the Benin Kingdom.
Those artifacts can again create a spiritual, moral, and emotional connection with the present Oba and the people, so why stay in front of it.
I can tell you these are ancestral artifacts that comes in all shapes and styles, and appeared marked with various psychological, spiritual, or religious representations, as such historians and art psychologists would love to study these artifacts in their natural environments. So let us try to source out their right unique places in the palace. Let us not hinder to that.
It is essential for Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki to understand that these types of ancestral pieces of artifacts very so often evoke a sense of appreciation for the original owners and helps their bearers think through the journey of grief that they went through. Especially when they are personal in nature andare the people’s artifactswhich wereforcibly removed from their original settings. So, I say no government should control these histories.
We now know that the artifacts were looted by British troops in the 19th century from the palaceand are now scattered worldwide. Not all of them will come back.
In May of this year a delegation from Germany was in Nigeria and during a meeting with Minister of Culture and Information, Lai Mohammed, the Germans promised to return Benin Bronzes that were looted from the Oba of Benin’s palace in 1897.
In that federal staged meeting,which was less represented by direct bearers from the palace, it was said by Mohammed,that the German groupon behalf of its government has signified its intention to assist us in building a storage facility for the repatriated artifacts. And that the facility will be built as part of the National Museum complex in Benin,and the artifacts will be preserved in the proposed Edo Museum of West African Arts which would be partly funded and executed by a private company named Legacy Restoration Trust Ltd.
Now, the Oba of Benin, EhenedenErediauwa Ewuare II, has said that no matter where these stolen artifacts are repatriated from including the 1,130 stolen Benin artefacts by Germany, they must be returnedto their original house, and be placed in the Benin Royal Museum, within the areas of the palace. Oba Ewuare 11, on an emotional note, asserts that,“You cannot expect the artifacts to go elsewhere other than where it was taken from; it is just a given. I think the international community will be wise.”“I am following my father’s footsteps; I am following my ancestors’ footsteps. It is not just only my course, it is not just only my statement, it is the statement of the entire people.”
Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, dancing to the songs his grandfather, Oba Akenzua II sang and danced to in 1938, at a press briefing on Friday. This was joy over the return of the first set of artefacts said to have been worn by Oba OvonranmwenNogbaisi when he went on exile. Credit…Vanguard Newspaper
These artifacts, stolen from the Benin palace during the 1897 invasion of the then Benin Empire,and included the Benin Massacre of 1897. As such theyare bereaved artifacts, so it makes sense to at least put them back in their historical setting. Better yet the federal and the State governments can give grants to the Oba Ewuare II Foundation for the purpose of building a modern structure – The Benin Royal Museum – within the precincts of the Palace.
In our current global economy, Nigeria must understandeverythingdoes not have be done or be with the government. Especially when the government is not fully known to do things effectively and efficiently. It is a high time that the government start to be responsive to private and non-government corporations.As such let a non-governmentcorporation like the Benin Royal Museum step in here,and all that will be needed isto support and invest in this type of traditional foundation.
It will even be to the federal and State Governments’ advantage, due to the international heritage and exceptional values that comes with theold age artifactsbeing placed in Benin Royal Museumwithin the ancestral palace.
There appears to be an underlying psychological aspect to thecurrent relationships between the Governor and the Oba.This historical reality that long exist appeared to be irrevocably intertwined with the present. Let’s me assume that there are elements of ancestral unfinished business and unconscious ancestral bias or subconscious prejudice between Oba EhenedenErediauwa Ewuare II, and Governor Obaseki due to the reported disagreement between their ancestors.
On the side of Governor Obaseki is his great grandfather Chief AghoOgbeideObaseki and on the side ofOba Ewuare II, is Oba OvenramenNogbaisi, the great, great grandfather and direct bloodline ancestor of Oba Ewuare II. It is reported that during the time of the British invasion of the Benin Kingdom and looting of the place in 1897 AghoOgbeideObaseki betrayed his friend Oba OvenramenNogbaisi,by conniving with the British who captured him and sent him into exile to Calabar where he died. Obaseki’s grandfather even acted as the Oba of Benin during the interregnum.
Despite these present and the past silent and pronounced differences they both remain twoimportant sons of the Edo Kingdom.
What is more important now is the prospect of Edoland becoming a global tourism environment where overseas Black roots tourist and others will come to visit the ancient palace and the royal museum–as a local tourism industryall at the same time. A win-win situation, and solution to everything happening around the artifacts.
Prof. John Egbeazien Oshodi, an American-based Police/Prison Scientist and Forensic/Clinical/Legal Psychologist. A government Consultant on matters of forensic-clinical adult/child psychological services in the USA; Chief Educator and Clinician at the Transatlantic Enrichment and Refresher Institute, an Online Lifelong Center for Personal, Professional and Career Development. The Founder of the Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi Foundation, Center for Psychological Health and Behavioral Change in African settings especially. In 2011, he introduced the State-of-the-Art Forensic Psychology into Nigeria through N.U.C and the Nasarawa State University where he served in the Department of Psychology as an Associate Professor. The Development Professor and International Liaison Consultant at the African University of Benin, and a Virtual Faculty at the ISCOM University, Benin of Republic. Professor John Egbeazien Oshodi is the founder, of the proposed Transatlantic Egbeazien University Of Values And Ethics, a mainly E-learning educational environment (TEU). Author of over 36 academic publications/creations, at least 200 public opinion writeups on African issues, and various books.
Prof. Oshodi was born in Uromi, Edo State, Nigeria to parents with almost 40 years of police/corrections service, respectively. Periodically visits home for scholastic and humanitarian works. Jos5930458@aol.com