Stolen Ancestral Stools Repatriated to Oba of Benin

Stolen Ancestral Stools Repatriated to Oba of Benin

by Joseph Anthony
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The Oba of Benin, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Ewuare II, CFR, has received two looted royal stools from the German government in a significant cultural milestone.

These artefacts—a bronze and a wooden stool, known as Ekete—were created during the reigns of Oba Eresoyen and Oba Esigie several centuries ago and were taken during the British punitive expedition in 1897. The stools were handed over to the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) by German authorities in 2022.

The official presentation of the stools took place on May 18, 2024, at the Oba of Benin’s Palace in Benin City, with Mr. Olugbile Holloway, Director-General of the NCMM, representing the Nigerian government. Mr. Holloway pledged to work closely with the Benin Royal Court to promote and display Edo culture and heritage. He emphasized the NCMM’s commitment to creating a destination that honors these artefacts and attracts global visitors.

In his address, Mr. Holloway highlighted the cultural and historical significance of the repatriated artefacts, noting that they are a vital part of both Benin and Nigeria’s heritage. He affirmed the NCMM’s loyalty to the Royal Court and its dedication to supporting the preservation and celebration of Benin’s cultural legacy.

Following the unveiling, Oba Ewuare II, visibly moved and joyful, performed a traditional dance and offered prayers to God and his ancestors. He expressed his gratitude to the German government, the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the NCMM for their roles in the repatriation of the stools.

In a historic gesture, the Oba sat on one of the returned royal stools and presented a piece of white chalk, symbolizing peace and blessings, to Mr. Holloway. The event was marked by prayers for Mr. Holloway and his team, as well as performances by royal drummers, underscoring the cultural significance of the occasion.

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