By Osaigbovo Iguobaro Benin
Prof. Nicholas Thomas of Cambridge University has admitted before the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II that he wrongly collected some stolen Benin art works.
At an audience with Oba Oba Ewuare II, he revealed that his family had persistently dreamt at their residence in the United Kingdom that the art works were from the Benin royal family.
The University don dropped the hint when he and his counterpart in the University of London, United Kingdom, Prof. (Mrs.) Annie Coombes visited Oba of Benin’s palace in Benin City.
Prof. Nicholas who is an expert in Benin history, told the monarch the art work he took custody of as a personal collector, is believed to be part of the art work looted during the British invasion of Benin empire in 1897.
According to him, “we dreamt severally that the thing was from the royal family of Benin.
“We have great responsibility to return these materials that were wrongfully taken away. “We are also afraid of the intricate complexity of the government”, he said.
He said the art work which has being with him was indeed a serious issue, was the reason for the visitation.
He explained that he Benin bronze work in his possession, is usually re-branded between 25-30 years.
Responding, the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, urged the Nigerian government to fast-track the processes that would lead to the repatriation of art work away from Benin, especially those that are in the hands of private collectors.
He commended the delegation led by the Duke of Abudu and Evbuobanosa, Orhionmwon Local government Area of Edo state, Prof. Gregory Akenzua II, for their focus on Benin history and pushing the boundaries of knowledge about African heritage.
“The work of my father is what I am here to build upon.
“I will build on the legacies of my ancestors.
“I will like to appeal to the Federal government not to only look at he Museums, but to look outside for private collectors of art work for repatriation”, he said.
Earlier in a remark, Prof. Gregory Akenzua II, gave a brief history of how the cultural diplomacy among Countries in Europe begun before the translation of Oba Erediauwa all begun.
He said him and his brother, Prince Edun Akenzua, the Duke of Obazuwa Community in Ovia South West Local Government Area of the state, had attended several meetings for the repatriation of stolen Benin art work.
He specifically said much progress was made during a similar meeting they attended with Cambridge University Management and another on Cultural exhibition of Benin arts in Vienna, Austra at the twilight of the Benin Centenary Celebrations in 1997.
Highpoint of the visit was the presentation of some copies of books written by Cambridge University teachers to Oba Ewuare II.