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Nigeria Receives 600-year-old Ife Terracotta Head Repatriated From The Netherlands

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The Nigerian Government has formally received a six-century old repatriated Ife Terracotta Head from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed received the artefact from his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, in the company of the Netherlands Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Harry van Dijk.

While receiving the antique treasure in his office in Abuja on Thursday, Mohammed said the return of the stolen Ife Terracotta marks a milestone in Nigeria’s efforts at pursuing the return of the country’s antiquities.

“It gives me profound joy to receive this very important antiquity, an Ife Terracotta, which is dated to be at least 600 years old. I am even more delighted that our efforts at pursuing the return of Nigerian antiquities,
which we launched last November, have started yielding fruits,” he said.

The Minister of Information and Culture said the government’s resolve to seek the repatriation of the nation’s timeless and priceless artefacts was strengthened by President Muhammadu Buhari’s marching orders for Nigeria to tap into tourism and other fields, where the country has comparative advantage, in order to generate income for the nation and secure jobs for the youth.

“One way of generating income for the country is if our cultural properties are exhibited around the world to a fee-paying audience, on the basis of proper agreement that acknowledges us as owners and confers the right benefits on us.

“But this is not possible for as long as most of them adorn the museums and private collections of others, who describe them as their properties,” he said.

Mohammed, who described the handing over of the artifact as a new beginning, said apart from the pecuniary benefits, the priceless objects wrought by the nation’s forebears are unifying factors among the diverse cultures in the country.

He said the Ife Terracotta was smuggled from Nigeria through Ghana to The Netherlands in 2019 with a forged document.

Following the interception of the artefact by the Dutch Customs at Schiphol Airport in The Netherlands, Nigeria was invited to prove her case against the suspected smuggler, which the country did successfully, hence the repatriation.

“Let me state here that Nigeria believes in joint international efforts to put a stop to illicit export and import of cultural goods. The issue of cultural property should not be a ground of rancour and discord among nations. That is if nations choose to tow the path which the Kingdom of The Netherlands has chosen by insisting on justice, fairness and amity,” Mohammed said.

In his remarks, the Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked The Netherlands for the efficient and expeditious manner in which it deployed resources to identify, retrieve and repatriate the Ife Terracotta to Nigeria.

Also speaking, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Nigeria said the return of the artifact is a fitting gift to mark the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention on the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking of Culture Heritage, of which Nigeria and The Netherlands are signatories.

The Director General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Prof. Abba Isa-Tijjani, has taken custody of the artifact for cleaning and treatment at the Conservation Laboratory before its eventual display to the public.

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Coffins Dating Back 3000Years Discovered for the First Time in Egypt

Located at depths of 40 feet, the burial wells also contained games from ancient times, of which one is similar to modern chess, as well as statues of Anubis and wooden funerary masks.

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Archaeologists in Egypt have uncovered over 50 wooden coffins and mummies which date back to over 3,000 years in an ancient temple near Cairo.

The new treasures were found at the Saqqara necropolis, south of Cairo, which makes up part of the necropolis at Memphis, the ancient capital of Egypt.

With cooperation between the Antiquities Ministry and the Zahi Hawass Centre at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, archaeologists uncovered 22 burial wells which contain 54 coffins that date back to the New Kingdom, which ruled Egypt between about 1570 BC and 1069 BC.

Most of the coffins displayed scenes of Gods that were worshipped at the time, with the discovery marking the first-time coffins dating back 3,000 years have been found in the Saqqara region.

The new discovery has helped archaeologists determine that the Saqqara area must have been used for burial purposes during both the New Kingdom as well as the Late Period.

Egypt’s former antiquities minister Zahi Hawass, revealed that experts also found a four-metre-long papyrus which included texts from the Book of the Dead; a compilation of ancient spells aimed at directing the dead through ancient Egypt’s underworld.

Located at depths of 40 feet, the burial wells also contained games from ancient times, of which one is similar to modern chess, as well as statues of Anubis and wooden funerary masks.

While commenting on the finds, Hawass said the discoveries will ‘rewrite the history of Saqqara and the New Kingdom’.

In the process of work close to the Pyramid of Teti, archaeologists also unearthed the temple of Queen Neit, wife of King Teti, who was the first king of the Sixth Dynasty that ruled Egypt from 2323 BC until 2150 BC.

A statement released on Facebook read “…These discoveries will rewrite the history of this region, especially during the 18th and 19th dynasties of the New Kingdom, during which King Teti was worshiped, and the citizens at that time were buried around his pyramid.

The mission confirmed that the entrance to the Saqqara region in the New Kingdom was through this area.

The mission discovered the funerary ancient temple of Queen [Neit], the wife of King Teti, part of which was already uncovered in the years prior.”

Three mud-brick warehouses, thought to have stored temple provisions, offerings and tools for the queen’s tomb, were found attached to Queen Neit’s temple.

While reaffirming Saqqara as an important tourist and cultural destination, Hawass described the find as the most important archaeological discovery this year. Hawass told reporters that 70% of the new

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Tanzania Promotes Conference Tourism for Economic Recovery

Nzuki explained that the National Convention Bureau will function as a department under the coordination of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) and will handle all arrangements and bookings for international conferences, symposiums, conventions, and other meetings.

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In a bid to hasten up recovery from the impact of Covid-19, Tanzania has set up a National Convention Bureau to promote conference tourism as a way of speeding up the industry’s recovery.

The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Dr Aloyce Nzuki, recently said that Tanzania’s diplomatic offices in various countries around the world will be used to appeal for more international conferences to be held in Tanzania.

Nzuki explained that the National Convention Bureau will function as a department under the coordination of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) and will handle all arrangements and bookings for international conferences, symposiums, conventions, and other meetings.

He described conference tourism as a key tourism product that has not been properly tapped in the past, despite its huge potential to complement the numerous beach and wildlife attractions that overflow in Tanzania.

Last month, the ministry launched an electronic database to monitor the quality of tourist and visitor accommodation services in the country.

Dr Nzuki said the database will monitor income statuses among visitors to the country and their individual abilities to afford service costs at accommodation facilities, other than expensive hotels and lodges which offer higher and expensive packages.

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According to the Permanent Secretary, the accommodation services in Tanzania will match East African Hotel Classification criteria to determine the quality-of-service delivery to tourists and other visitors to Tanzania and other East African Community (EAC) states.

The electronic database will also help tourism authorities to get information from the Approved Accommodation Facilities in Tanzania as to ensure quality services to clients to match with the East African Community standards.

Approved Accommodation Facilities are the Town Hotels, Vacation Hotels, Lodges, Motels, Tented Camps, Villas, Cottages and Serviced Apartments, and Restaurants.

By end of last year, Tanzania had a total of 308 registered accommodation facilities with Star Class, up from 67 in 2015.

The World Bank recommended in December that Tanzania and other African countries should focus on tourism diversification to cushion the impact of Covid-19 on their respective economies.

The chairman of the Pretoria-based African Tourism Board, Cuthbert Ncube, said that regional and intra-Africa tourism development could be an optional step that will help African countries alleviate Covid-19 impacts on tourism.

Tanzania is targeting to attract five million tourists annually by 2025 from the current 1.8 million, and earn $6 billion per year from the $2.6 billion figure recorded before the coronavirus pandemic.

Tourism was the leading source of foreign exchange earnings in Tanzania before the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to official data, industry earnings reached $2.5 billion in 2019, but by the end of 2020, it had dropped to about $598 million mainly due to the Covid-19 crisis.

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Tanzania to Auction 30 ‘Tourist Hunting Blocks’ in Game Reserves, Other Areas

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Namibia threatens Withdrawal from CITES

The Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) has offered for sale 30 “tourist hunting blocks” within game reserves and other areas.

TAWA, in a statement on its website, said: “Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) invites applications from qualified applicants for the allocation of Tourist Hunting Blocks through electronic auctioning (e-auctioning).

“Currently, there are 30 vacant hunting Blocks within Game Reserves (GRs), Game Controlled Areas (GCAs) and Open Areas (OAs) that are immediately available for e-auctioning. Eligible hunting companies can be allocated up to five (5) hunting blocks each, which shall be of different categories. Auctioning will commence on 8th February 2021 and will last for seven consecutive days.”

Tawa has set out requirements for companies interested in the blocks, including being registered “within Tanzania intending to engage in hunting of animals”, as well having at least one director with five years of experience in wildlife-based business and conservation in the country.

Some of the hunting blocks are located within the Selous Game Reserve ecosystem, which is listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Tourism is one of the key pillars of the Tanzanian economy.

The government initially placed 26 hunting blocks on an online auctioning platform in 2019 in order to enhance transparency and curb corruption.

Last year’s auction was reportedly shelved after the government was unable to sell many of the blocks in previous auctions.

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