By Jethro IbilekeHeritage is that important thing which is inherited or could be passed on to future generations. It connects people with social values, religions, and cultures. It is that which existed in the past and still continue to have historical importance in the present.
Heritage sites exist all over the world. In fact, many countries make millions of dollars in revenue after turning their heritage sites to tourist’s centers, where tourists in their millions visit to have a feel of the past of such counties.
Heritage sites carry in them history, traditions, or practices of a particular people, city or country. It includes a varied range of inherited traditions, monuments and culture. Civilization includes excavation, restoration and displays a collection of old things.
The ancient city of Benin, the Edo state capital, is one great city which has a rich history and culture. Hundreds of its artifacts, including Bronze casts, were stolen by invading white men centuries ago. Campaign for their repatriation are currently in momentum, and many universities in European and American countries have either returned some of the stolen artifacts or are in the process of returning them to their rightful abode.
Clamours for the return of those valued items seem to have however blinded us to other extraordinary tourist locations as revenue earners. One of such hidden treasure potential heritage centers is the Broderick Castle.
Located at James Watt street, by Idahosa street junction, behind New Nigeria Bank, Mission Road, Benin, it was gathered that the architectural masterpiece was constructed almost 100 years ago, with magnificent, delicate and elaborate features. In fact, it could be described as an avant-garde celebration of new wealth, colonial influence, economic progress and political liberalization.
Jefferson Uwoghiren, a Benin-based legal practitioner, described the grandeur of Broderick Castle as a case study of the economic base of the ancient city. He noted that the building teemed with a lot of stories and jokes.
“The Broderick Castle is an impressionist, regal, radical and bold statement of wealth cut short by reversals of economic and political developments in Benin. Nothing symbolizes Benin as Broderick Castle. Anyone who wants to understand our economic history must study this building, now a fragmentary palimpsest of crazy sights.
“People used to come from the villages in those days to come and see the building. Once they are looking at the building, their caps will fall from their heads. There were a lot of stories and jokes about it, that’s why they used to make a joke in Benin in those days: If you happen to have capped teeth, they say look at your teeth like Broderick’s windows,” he said.
Sadly, however, the building is merely existing in its past glory. This imposing display of architectural masterpiece, a potential tourist centre has been abandoned by the state government for decades. In fact, Uwoghiren disclosed to the magazine thus: “All these Ibo boys want to just tear it down and turn it to stores for their businesses.” Sad indeed.
This is a clarion call to the state government that is searching every nook and cranny of the state for possible places to generate internal revenue to turn its attention to the Broderick Castel. If the government could acquire and spend some money to revamp the building and turn it to a tourist center, it is sure to take in millions of naira yearly, as the centre is capable of attracting tourists from all over the world every year.
“If you are visiting Benin or just driving pass, please stop by and visit this living old lady and history of new beginnings and see how we lost our paradise and place to the smiling plunderers from the East.
“I expect a state government to acquire it as a heritage site,” Uwoghiren advised.
Photos by Barr. Jefferson Uwoghiren