A UK based Nigerian medical student, Lukas Osarobo Okoro has unveiled the biggest-ever bronze made plaque of the ancient Benin Kingdom, south-south Nigeria.
The bronze plaque, which weighs 2 tons, was unveiled inside a museum constructed by Okoro, a grandson of Chief Sam Igbe (MON), Iyase of the Benin Kingdom, the traditional Head of Chiefs of Benin,
The unveiling ceremony that was held recently in the ancient city of Benin, capital of Edo State, south-south Nigeria was a gathering of who is who in the traditional circles in the mythical kingdom. It was a ceremony that signified the reawakening of the consciousness of the people about the rich cultural heritage of the local Kingdom. The ceremony was christened ‘The Ancient Benin”.
According to Okoro, the plaque was designed with the theme: The Return of Ewuare 1. Ewuare (also Ewuare the Great) was the Oba (king) of the Benin Empire from 1440 until 1473. Ewuare became king in a violent coup against his brother Uwaifiokun which destroyed much of Benin City. After the war, Ewuare rebuilt much of the city, reformed political structures and greatly expanded the territory of the kingdom, and fostered arts and festivals. He left a significant legacy and is often considered the first King of the Kingdom of Benin.
“The inspiration to work on this artifact came when I visited a museum in Manchester, what I saw baffled me. I saw one of the stolen artifacts of the ancient Benin Kingdom inside the museum with the inscription “The Discovery of Benin Art by the West”. I was taken aback by the wrong impression the whites are giving to the cultural treasures of my people. I actually started working on this plaque during the lockdown of Covid-19 in Benin. The whole plaque weighs 2 tons, though it is not easy, I am happy that I was able to achieve what I set out to do for the sake of the history of my people,” Okoro said.
“I want to tell the world that Benin is a kingdom of great people with a strong history and our story will be told for generations to come, Part of the history is being told through this plaque to show the life of the great King, Ewuare 1,” he told Timescape Magazine.
To Iyase, who is regarded as the Prime Minister of the Benin Kingdom, what Okoro produced marveled him.
“When he told me about this vision, I was skeptical, I did not know how serious he was, but I am so happy that as a custodian of Benin culture, one of my grandsons today is here projecting the culture. What he has done is a plus to the family and we are so much happy,” Chief Igbe told Timescape Magazine.
The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Hon. (Engr,) Osaigbovo Tani Iyoha applauded the work of art, noting that it was an invaluable promotion of the culture of Benin and its people.
“This is quite awesome, and it is the delight of the government to associate with this young man for rekindling our memory of what the ancient Benin looked like,” the Chief of Staff said after he and other guests were guided around the mini-museum built by Okoro and other young artists who would have been drafted as Guild in the Palace of the Oba of Benin. They are called Ahiamwen Guild of Artists.
Hon. (Engr,) Osaigbovo said that the state government was ever ready to support any initiative that would showcase the culture of the people of the state and urged other youths to emulate Okoro and other members of the Guild.