By Palma Ileye
Society of Nigerian Artists, SNA, Abuja Chapter, with consultative support from the Goethe Institute in Lagos is set to host a roundtable on the repatriation of Benin Bronzes.
In a press release issued by the organiser, the aim of the Roundtable with the theme of the Abuja Conversation tagged, “Benin Bronzes and Nigeria” is to provide a platform for the continuation of critical conversation on the returned Benin Bronzes to Nigeria, by
organizing further coordinated talks on returns and future cooperation.
The statement noted that the bilateral event will consist of public conversations between panellists and invited guests on specific topics, an engaging, extensive and moderated interaction with the respective audience, and a programme focusing on cultural heritage.
It stated that the event was conceived to promote relationships in the arts, cultural and creative communities, as well as join the global discussion on the return of Benin Bronzes and other artefacts to Nigeria, noting that it is also intended to create opportunities for critical social, economic and cultural interaction, as well as to support local and international art and culture programmes.
The statement read that,
The Benin Bronzes Roundtable will aim to: “Elucidate on the concept and context of repatriation and restitution.
Explore the possibility of developing policies that will protect the returned Benin Bronzes.
“Encourage the appreciation of the returned Benin bronzes and other artefacts as a sustainable cultural effort; Advocate for sustainable diplomatic relationship, development and cultural justice; Develop recommendations for collaboration between stakeholders, policymakers,
and institutions to facilitate the repatriation process and promote the preservation of cultural heritage.
“Involve the media and research community in identifying challenges, wishes and expectations from the Nigerian society as well as topics for future workshops that the
Benin Bronzes discussions can focus on; Maintain a platform for individuals and groups to discuss the efforts and progress in the repatriation of the artefacts.
“The return of Benin Bronzes to Nigeria and of other artefacts to other nations marks a key
moment in the decades-old debate about the need to return illegally acquired cultural property to its place of origin – a debate which incidentally started about the same time in both Nigeria, Festac’77 and Germany.
“Much as a public discourse contributed to changes in moral and legal attitudes that finally lead to the decision to return the bronzes, the focus of the post-return discussion now needs to shift to Nigeria.
“Although the return of the Benin Bronzes is negotiated and conducted mainly on a Government-to-Government level, it is now worth exploring the significance, meaning and relevance it has for interested parts of the Nigerian civil society, or indeed for Nigerian society as a whole.
“Such a Nigerian debate could, inter alia, touch upon the cultural, artistic, societal, economic, spiritual/religious, legal and political aspects of the Bronzes’ renewed presence in Nigeria.
“To this end, the Society of Nigerian Artists and the Goethe-Institute in Lagos are collaborating to provide a platform for such a conversation in Nigeria by organizing three Roundtable Discussions that will take place over the year 2023 in Abuja, Benin and Lagos to continued discussion on the resituated Benin bronzes and identify challenges and ways to accommodate them.”
The Abuja conversation is scheduled to hold at Thoughts Pyramids Art Centre, 18 Libreville Crescent, Wuse 2 Abuja, on Saturday, 27th May, 2023, from 2.00 pm – 6.00 pm.