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Germany Returns Looted Benin Bronzes To Nigeria

Germany<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>returns<a href=httpshowafricacom> <a>Benin Bronzes to Nigeria Photo TwitterFMICNigeria

 

Following a deal struck earlier this year to return over 1,000 cultural artifacts, Germany has returned 20 Benin Bronzes looted in the nineteenth century to Nigeria. According to the BBC, Nigeria said in July that it was the first time a European country had signed such a deal.

At a ceremony in Abuja on Tuesday, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that returning the Benin Bronzes was part of Germany’s efforts to confront its colonial past.

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“Today, we are here to return the Benin Bronzes to where they belong, to the people of Nigeria,” Baerbock said during the official handover in Abuja. “We are here to right a wrong,” she added. An ivory carving, a decorated plaque and some iconic ceremonial heads were among the artefacts returned, BBC reported.

The artifacts’ return comes amid calls for Western countries to return artifacts looted during colonialism. Benin City was the capital of the Benin Kingdom, one of Africa’s most developed states, when it was ransacked and burned down by British forces in 1897. Its destruction in what became known as the Benin Expedition of 1897 resulted in the demise of the once prosperous and well-known Benin Kingdom, which was located in what is now southern Nigeria.

Britain’s punitive expedition not only resulted in the deaths of valiant chiefs, but also in the confiscation of numerous works of art, including ivory and bronze works. The majority of these works of art are now housed in prestigious museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum. Some were purchased by German collectors, and the country has been holding approximately 1,100 of the 5,000 looted items.

“Twenty years ago, even 10 years ago, nobody could have anticipated these bronzes returning to Nigeria, because the obstacles to achieving repatriation were seemingly insurmountable,” Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, said at the handover. “But today, with the pioneering gesture of a friendly nation, Germany, the story has changed.”

 

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Written by How Africa News

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