Oba of Benin takes custody of two repatriated 'Royal stools'

Oba of Benin

Oba Ewuare II receiving the royal stool

By Jethro Ibileke

Two looted artifacts returned to Nigeria by the German government have been handed over to the custody of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II.

Historical records revealed that the artefacts — made during the reign of Oba Eresoyen and Oba Esigie several Centuries ago, were looted from Oba Palace during the punitive expedition in 1897.

The artifacts, Royal Stools (Ekete), made of bronze and wood, were handed over to National Commission for Museums and Monuments, NCMM on behalf of the Nigerian government by the German authorities in 2022.

Historical records indicated that the artifacts—were made during the reign of Oba Eresoyen and Oba Esigie several centuries ago.

The Director-General of National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Olugbile Holloway, handed over the repatriated objects to the Benin monarch in his palace on behalf of the Federal Government on Saturday, 18 May, 2024.

In a speech, Holloway pledged on behalf of NCMM, to work-hand-in hand with the Benin Royal Court in uplifting and displaying Edo heritage.

He revealed that as the Benin Bronzes and other Art works were gradually making their way home to Nigeria, NCMM would join hands with the Royal Court to create a befitting destination for people around the world to come and appreciate them.

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He said: “What you see before us were originally taken away from the Royal family in 1897. We have a stool made of Bronze and a wooden stool.

“I speak for every member of my team, to say that we remain loyal to the Royal Court and if there is anything we can do, we will do to support this laudable initiative.

“This heritage is not just Benin heritage, but Nigeria’s heritage. When we speak of Benin heritage, there is nobody that doesn’t know the great works of ours.

“I appreciate you, we will always do what we can do with our powers to make His Royal Majesty lineage in memory.”

Receiving the repatriated artifacts, excited Oba Ewuare II with his Chiefs and members of the Royal family, danced joyfully to Benin traditional rendition in a dramatic dance steps and offered prayers to Almighty God and his ancestors.

The revered traditional ruler, who was visibly overwhelmed with joy, appreciated the German Government and the Federal Government and the leadership of NCMM for their efforts.

Thereafter, the royal father in a rare, but historic move, sat in one of the Royal stools (Ekete), personally presented a chunk of white, which symbolizes peace and blessings to the Director-General of National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Mr Olugbile Holloway.

Oba Ewuare II also prayed for Holloway and his team, accompanied by the Curator, National Museum, Benin, Mark Olaitan, Director, Legal Services, NCMM, Babatunde Adebiyi on the visit where royal drummers gave a good account of their stewardship.

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