Briton Returns Bronze Artefacts to Benin

Two Bronze artefacts carted away by a Captain Philip Walker in 1897 during the invasion of Benin by British soldiers has been returned to the Oba of Benin by a Briton, Dr. Mark Walker.

According to him, Captain Pjilips Walker was his grandfather who took the artefacts about 117 years ago. The artefacts -a long-beaked bird and a bell, were received by Oba Erediauwa of Benin at a reception organised in honour of the Briton in Benin.

Walker 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 realised that my children were not interested in the bronze works, I knew I had to protect their future,” -Walker.

Walker 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.

According to PUNCH, Oba Erediauwa describes Dr Walkers gesture of returning the artefacts as the best birthday gifts he has ever received. The Oba of Benin also used the opportunity to encourage other descendants of soldiers who fought in Benin and took artefacts as keepsakes to emulate Walker’s gesture and return the objects in their possession.