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Obaseki harps on safeguarding Edo’s heritage, reclaiming stolen artefacts

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Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki has assured that the state would continue to safeguard its rich cultural heritage, as ongoing efforts to reclaim and preserve monuments will pull tourist traffic to the state.

Photo Exhibition on Looted Benin Artefacts, at the Oba of Benin Palace, in Benin City, Edo State. The photo exhibition is part of activities lined up to mark the 2018 EDOFEST.

Obaseki, who gave the assurance in commemoration of the International Day for Monuments and Sites, noted that concerted efforts are being made by relevant stakeholders in promoting and safeguarding Edo heritage and showcasing its cultural sophistication to the world.

Photos: Prince Charles, Omo N’Oba Ewuare II, Ooni of Ife, Emir of Kano, Sultan meet

He noted, “Culture is one of our strongest assets as a state, and we must make the best of this prized inheritance. We are collaborating with the Oba of Benin and other critical stakeholders in agitating for the repatriation of over 6000 artefacts looted during the Benin Expedition of 1897. These artefacts are parts of our priceless heritage objects with global appeal. Through the partnership with the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II, we intend to build a world-class Royal Museum to hold stolen artefacts. This will ensure that once the artefacts are reclaimed, they are safeguarded. Our grand plan is to make the artefact part of valued assets in our tourism master plan.”

“We are very proud to have inherited rich cultural structures that tell of our history as a people and the immense influence wielded by the Benin Kingdom across the globe. We are determined to unlock the cultural and tourism potential of these priceless gifts handed down by our forefathers,” the governor said.

He added that efforts are being made by the state government to document and preserve other cultural assets across the state to boost social-economic activities in the culture and tourism sector, adding that the cultural assets will be on display at the National Festival for Arts and Culture (NAFEST) to be hosted by Edo State later in the year, to raise the profile of the cultural expo.

Obaseki urged culture enthusiasts, tourism promoters, art collectors and other stakeholders to support efforts by the state government to promote culture and tourism to maximise the gains the sector holds for development.

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According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the International Day for Monuments and Sites (World Heritage Day) is an international observance held on April 18 each year around the world with different types of activities, including visits to monuments and heritage sites, conferences, round tables and newspaper articles.

The day was proposed by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) on 18 April 1982 and approved by the General Assembly of UNESCO in 1983. The aim is to promote awareness about the diversity of cultural heritage of humanity, their vulnerability and the efforts required for their protection and conservation.

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