By Yochuku Ofoka Yobolisa, Editor in Chief
Nigeria has yesterday received an ancient Ife bronze sculpture repatriated from the United Mexican States after it was spotted at the Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City four years ago. The cultural artefact is the sculpture of a Yoruba man seated cross-legged, wearing a headdress and holding an object in his right hand.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Jideofor Onyeama, received the artefact from Dr Yakubu Dadu, Nigeria’s charge de Affaires in Mexico, and identified the sculpture as an object of great antiquity that originated from Ile-Ife, in Osun State. The minister said that official investigations in collaboration with Nigeria’s ministry of information and culture, and relevant Mexican institutions have duly established that the bronze head originated from Ife, Nigeria.
The minister said that efforts to recover the ancient object started four years ago when Aminu Alhaji Iyawa, former ambassador to Mexico, sighted the sculpture at the Mexican airport and suspected it was a Nigerian artefact.
“The process of recovering the valuable cultural possession commenced in 2017, when the former Nigerian ambassador to Mexico, Ambassador Aminu Alhaji Iyawa incidentally saw a bronze head at the Benito Juarez International Airport, in Mexico City and suspected it to be of Nigerian origin. Beyond the national value to Nigeria, the Bronze is an object of iconic cultural, traditional and religious importance to the Yoruba people, as well as a critical part of their history and heritage resources,” he said.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is committed to ensuring that all cultural artefacts stolen from the country and scattered in different parts of the world are recovered and returned. He, therefore, urged all well-meaning Nigerians to notify relevant agencies of artefacts suspected to be of Nigerian origin wherever they find such works of art.