Ekiti state governor, Biodun Oyebanji, has revealed plans by his administration to work towards the return of stolen artistic works and artifacts of renowned carver, Olowe Ajalemo, popularly known as Olowe of Ise from abroad to the state.
Oyebanji, who spoke during his visit to the residence of the late carver in Ise-Ekiti, Ise-Orun Local Government Area of Ekiti state on Monday, noted that the carver, who died in 1934 distinguished himself with his artistic dexterity with his magnificent works scattered across major museums in America and European countries.
The governor, accompanied by Senator Babafemi Ojudu; the Arinjale of Ise, Oba Adetunji Ajayi and other prominent leaders in the visit, promised that the government would build a museum in the house where all his works from abroad would be retrieved and deposited to attract tourists and investors across the world.
He explained that the artifacts, when returned, would serve as a means of boosting the economic fortune of the state and preserving the cultural heritage for coming generations.
While soliciting the support of the residents and the community towards the rehabilitation and building of the museum, said his administration was committed to the project in the overall interest of the people and the state.
Oyebanji said, “Today, as we embark on the rehabilitation of Olowe of Ise, we have the opportunity to not only preserve and celebrate his legacy, but also to bring greater awareness to his work within Nigeria.
“Olowe’s carvings are a testament to the rich cultural heritage and artistic excellence of our nation, and it is only right that we ensure his contributions are properly acknowledged and celebrated.
“Through this rehabilitation, we can create a space that not only showcases Olowe’s carvings, but also serves as a hub for artistic exchange and appreciation.
“It is our hope that by doing so, we can inspire a new generation of artists and artisans to draw upon Olowe’s incredible talent and passion for their own creative endeavors.
“To achieve this end we shall do something about this house where he lived all his life; build a respectable museum here and make efforts to bring back home all his work taken away from here.
“All those pretty works of this super talented man must return home and adorn the proposed museum so that the world can find its way here to adore them and know that Olowe belongs to Ise, belongs to Ekiti and to Nigeria and Africa.”
Speaking, Senator Ojudu, who commended Governor Oyebanji for his interest and commitment in the project, revealed that the late carver’s artistic works were generating huge amounts of money for museums in America and European countries.
He added that the community and the state would benefit from the moves towards returning the works from the foreign countries which would attract investors to Ekiti and grow the local economy.
According to him, “It is an Ekiti idea, and all of us want to support the government to succeed and change the narratives of the state. How do we do this, is to send out to the world every positive story and ideas about our state.
“It takes a man of intellect and lover of Ekiti to hear about an idea and run with it and we must thank the governor for what he has done today.
“This project is going to sell our state, it is going to put our state and Ise-Ekiti on the map of the world because the man we are celebrating was unlettered and he didn’t go to any school but his works are everywhere in the world.
“We are having a museum here and hopefully we have a bigger one in Ado-Ekiti where all his works will be displayed. It is going to be the beginning of great things in the state.”
Responding, Oba Ajayi, who also hailed the efforts of Governor Oyebanji and Senator Ojudu for their interest in showcasing the late carver to the world, added that the community would constitute a committee to support the initiative, saying, “ it is going to be a landmark in the history of the community.”