By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—THE Benin monarch, Omo N’ Oba Ewuare II, has renewed the call for the repatriation of all Benin artefacts carted away during the British invasion of Benin Kingdom in 1897.
He made the call when he received the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, and Director Emerita of Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts, Dr. Johnetta Cole, at his palace in Benin City.
Oba Ewaure II said it was a great privilege to hold Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts Exhibition in Benin City, adding that this has demonstrated that the Benin culture is number one in Africa.
He informed his guests that Benin Kingdom has rich works of art and cultural centre, and requested Smithsonian to partner the palace to revive and improve on the facilities in the cultural centre, so that it will have the capacity to host world class cultural and art exhibitions.
The Benin monarch informed the American Ambassador to Nigeria that the palace will require economic and technological support from the American government to develop Edo State, adding that there were vested interests to open up the Gelegele Export Free Zone for economic gains.
He drew the attention of the American government to the effects of environmental pollution in Nigeria and the world at large, and called for greater caution on the part of the US government regarding the issue of North Korea and the Peninsula.
The American Ambassador, Mr. Stuart Symington, in his response, said that the cultural and arts exhibition to be held in Benin City will further cement the bond between Nigeria and the US, adding that the images to be exhibited will create surprises in the minds of people around the world, as the images reflect the Benin people.
On her part, the Director Emerita of Smithsonian National Museum of African Arts, Dr. Johnetta Cole, expressed satisfaction that the dream of Smithsonian Institution has become a reality, as the photographs taken over 60 years ago by the official photographer to the Royal Court of Benin Kingdom, Chief Solomon Alonge, were brought to the people of Benin.