The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has hailed the very rich cultural history and tradition of the ancient
Benin Kingdom, one of the famous destinations during the exploitation of the African continent by the Europeans.
Speaking at the opening of the National Gallery of Art (NGA) Benin Art Exhibition, in commemoration of the coronation of the new Oba of
Benin, the Minister however lamented the plundering of the priceless pieces of Benin art works during the attack on the ancient Benin Kingdom by the British in 1897.
”Although some of the works have been repatriated, till date some other choice works are still adorning exhibition spaces in museums
across Europe and Britain. For instance, the Idia Ivory mask, official symbol of the 2nd World Black Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC
’77) which took place in Nigeria in 1977, is still on display in a British museum,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said the people of Edo, whom he described as ”highly skilled” in the arts and crafts, have continued to maintain the rich legacy of the Benin Kingdom with their colorful festivals and engagement in arts production such as pottery, basket-making, cane
furniture, cloth-weaving, mat-making and gold-smiting to generate income and create jobs.
A statement issued by S.A , Segun Adeyemi explained that the Minister used the occasion to welcome and highlight the significance of the
establishment of World Intellectual Property Organisation’s External Office in Nigeria, noting that the contribution of Nigeria to the
Commonwealth of culture and creativity has gained global prominence.
The Minister said: ”Our rich culture is a spectacle for the global world to behold. Nigeria has become an irresistible and important site of culture,creativity and intellectual property. The above fact is therefore significant to the establishment of WIPO’s external office in Nigeria.
”WIPO’s office in Nigeria will fulfill the three key objectives of providing the much-needed capacity building for Africa with Nigeria as
regional hub; support local and regional information and technical assistance system; and strengthen automated solutions by IP system and public authorities for the country and the region.”