December 14, 2008
Kwame Opoku talks about the accusations from museums that there is no formal demand for the return of artefacts – when in many cases there is a demand, but the institution would prefer to ignore it or not acknowledge it as a formal request.
Will western Museums now return some of the looted/stolen artefacts?
Datum: 14.12.08 21:46
Von: Dr. Kwame Opoku
FORMAL DEMAND FOR THE RETURN OF BENIN BRONZES: WILL WESTERN MUSEUMS NOW RETURN SOME OF THE LOOTED/STOLEN BENIN ARTEFACTS?
“The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.”
Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause (1)
We have often heard from those holding on to the looted/stolen Benin artefacts that there has not been any demand for their return by the owners. This is, of course, a blatant lie which often reminds one of an absurd theatre piece. A performer states clearly a view point and immediately thereafter, another character tells the audience that so far no such statement has been made. We have the remarkable situation in which the King of Benin, the Oba, writes in an introductory note in the catalogue of the exhibition Benin: Kings and Rituals -Court Arts from Nigeria requesting the return of some of the Benin cultural artefacts. Almost immediately thereafter, we have directors of four museums organizing the exhibition with the co-operation of Nigeria declaring in a preface that they have no intention of returning these objects and advising the Nigerians to forget the past and look to the future. (2) The Benin demand was also stated by the Enogie of Obazuwa, brother of the Oba, at the opening of the exhibition on 9 May 2008. Some months after the exhibition in Vienna, the show which went to Paris (October 2, 2007-January 6, 2008) moved to Berlin (February 7-May 25, 2008) and we had people from the Berlin Ethnology Museum creating the impression that there had been no request for the return of the Benin bronzes even though at the opening of the exhibition, the Nigerian Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Prince Adetokumbo Kayode, had clearly stated the wish of the Nigerians to have back their cultural objects. (3) What kind of game is this?
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