December 22, 2017

Commission wants unconditional return of stolen works

The National Commission for Museums and Monuments has called for the unconditional returned of cultural artefacts and works taken illegally from Nigeria and other parts of Africa.

Mr Dapo Sijuade, the Head of Public Relation of the commission made the call in an interview with newsmen on Friday in Abuja.

“Our objects of traditional and cultural values illegally taken away should unconditionally be released and returned by all who hold them back to their various countries of origin.

“African cultural objects are invaluable, the very reason why museums in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular view restitution as the last stage of complete decolonization.

“Africa has made several pleas and conscious attempts towards the return of these cultural properties but has received poor responses compared to the magnitude of loot.

“The ex colonial masters of Africa and looters of her cultural property have been reluctant to render apologies and make amends through compensation and restitution,’’ Sijuade said.

He explained that the Trans -Atlantic slave trade and Colonialism had greatly affected the free growth and development of Africa in many ramifications, be it culturally, politically, religiously and socially.

Sijuade added that the colonial powers prevented empires in Africa from developing into sovereign nation states with their customs and traditions intact like other continents.

He emphasised that the slave trade negated political, economic, cultural and social development stressing that it destroyed celebrated existing kingdoms like that of Benin and Congo among others.

“It adversely affected the development of the cultural heritage of our continent.

“When treaties with local chiefs failed, the colonial masters employed conquest and forceful annexation as they did in the great kingdom of Benin in 1897.

“That was when Oba Ovoramwen and his kingdom was illegally attacked, subdued and thousands of cultural artifacts of great values massively looted and taken to Europe.

“Most of those stolen artefacts are now adorned in museums all over the western world.

“Bringing them back will be a thing of joy for Africans and an addition to our cultural heritage,’’ Sijuade said.