DIALOGUE GROUP REMOVES RESTITUTION OF BENIN ARTEFACTS FROM ITS AGENDA
‘As for the ownership status of the works, who does not know that Benin is the true owner despite the semantics and legalese by the international community? We have had enough of these meetings which onl end as academic exercise.’
Prince Edun Agharese, Enogie of Obazuwa. (1)
We received a copy of an article entitled Benin Dialogue Group: Benin Royal Museum-: Three Steps Forward, Six Steps Back by Folarin Shyllon in Art, Antiquity and Law (2). This is an interesting article because Shyllon has participated in all the meetings of the Benin Dialogue Group since its inception and therefore has information which many of us are not privileged to have. I have a lot of respect for Folarin Shyllon’s achievements in this area and can say I have read his contributions that are easily available to the normal reader. He explains in the article some of the activities of the Benin Dialogue Group. My own impressions of this group are contained in several articles that are also easily available on the internet. (3)
Towards the end of the above-mentioned article, under the heading, a MISSTEP and in CONCLUSION Shyllon launches a surprising attack on my person, by name, at least 4 times. I intended to ignore these comments because such attacks and responses might distract from the main objective, that is the restitution of looted African art to which both of us are committed but approach in different styles and ways, depending on our personalities and the opportunities we have to make our contributions. But I was advised that since he is making allegations of fact, in the interest of scholarship, somebody must answer, and I may be the best to do so. Besides, he may have been writing these attacks on behalf of a group of persons who cannot tolerate that an African, on his own, without being employed to do so, comments on the activities of persons selected by the museums and their governments to deal with an issue of common concern.
The relevant parts of Shyllon’s article that may not be easily available to all are reproduced below for the reader’s convenience and also to allow quick reference to what is alleged and the answer thereto. (4) We shall also use his headings to
facilitate the reader’s search for what we are commenting on as well as indicate the innuendos, insinuations, and hidden insults therein.
Read full report including many images and annexes at: toncremers.nl/Kwame Opoku BDG .htm or (download) at: https://www.toncremers.nl/BDG%20%20%20TEXT%20.docx