By Chris Opara EAMN Nigeria
Andrian Mark Walker, and great grandson of Captain Philip Walker of the British Royal Forces that invaded Benin Kingdom in 1897, and went away with two bronze works from the palace of the Oba of Benin, returns the artefacts to Benin.
The two bronze artifacts, a long-beaked bird and a bell, which were removed by his great grandfather, Captain Philip Walker, in 1897, were received by the Oba at a reception organized in honour of the Briton in Benin. It also coincided that both Andrian Walker and the receiver are both great grand sons of the two key players i.e. Philip Walker and Oba Ovarenmen Nogbaisi respectively. The monarch, Oba Erediauwa, who would mark his birthday in few days, described the return of the antiquities as the best birthday gifts he had ever received.
The Oba, however, urged the other descendants of soldiers who fought in Benin and still kept the objects in their homes to emulate Walker’s friendly gesture and return the objects in their possession. Walker, who expressed delight during a reception organized for him in the government house told newsmen that the cultural antiquities were returned to their place of origin, noted that he was thankful to the traditional ruler and people of Benin for not rebuking him on account of his grandfather’s misdeed.
He said that he had persuaded his grandmother to take custody of the artefacts so that he could trace their root and return them to the rightful owners.
“I was very pleased to have them in my possession because they reminded me of my parents.
“But when I realized that my children were not interested in the bronze works, I knew I had to protect their future,” Walker noted.
He said that it was through information about Benin bronze on the Internet that he discovered the website of the Richard Lander Society, operated by Steve Sunstone, which connected him with the original owner of the antiquities. “On that website is a brief history of Benin and a passionate plea for the return of the bronzes.
So, I contacted Mr. Sunstone and he very kindly put into effect a lot of work by himself and his colleagues who arranged for visits to the Nigerian High Commission in London and made contact with the royal household here,” he said. The palace however, dismissed the impression by the Boston Museums of Fine Arts that the Oba had indorsed a show put up by the Museums to celebrate its acquisitions of 34 of looted Benin Bronze.
In his remark, the Governor of Edo State Adams Oshiomole commended the Oba of Benin for the peaceful return of the artifacts without any form of adjudication in any court of law.
The Governor also, described Dr. Walker as a man with a “Heart of Gold”
The action of this noble Briton, in the opinion of Euroafricacentral Network is Germaine, and will no doubt rekindle the inter-cultural respects of both Nations in particular and the world over.