History and art comes home: Germany returns 20 Benin Bronze artefacts to Nigeria

Culled: WION| News| Afor| Wednesday| December 21, 2022| 22:05 CAT

On Tuesday, Germany became the latest nation to return cultural artefacts to their African homeland. The country handed over 20 Benin Bronzes from its museums to Nigeria. Let’s take a look at the beautiful pieces of art and history:

A growing momentum

As per Reuters, these handovers are the clearest sign yet of a growing momentum towards the long overdue return of artefacts stolen from Africa by Europeans during the colonial period.

More than thousand stolen pieces

Last year Germany had agreed to start returning Benin Bronzes held in its museums and earlier this year the nation signed a declaration promising the release of all 1,130 pieces.

Those in attendance

Nigerian foreign minister Geoffrey Onyeama and information minister Lai Mohammed were present at the event during which Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and the minister for culture and media Claudia Roth handed over the artefacts.

A colonial legacy?

Benin Bronzes as per Reuters are actually copper alloy relief sculptures, many of which show court figures.

Long overdue

“Today we are taking a step that was long overdue: We are returning 20 Benin bronzes from German museums to where they belong, to their homeland,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerboc told reporters in Abuja.

Cultural artefacts in casinos?

These artefacts have been in German museums for nearly two centuries. As per Nigerian officials some are even kept in private collections and casinos

Spread among institutions around the world

These artefacts were stolen form the then separate Kingdom of Benin in 1897, during a raid by British soldiers. They were then auctioned off and then spread among institutions from New Zealand to Germany and the United States.

A colonial legacy?

The British Museum in London now has the biggest collection of Benin Bronzes. There’s hope that the latest return and the similar ones before would pressure UK to return the artefacts.

Nigerian information minister Lai Mohammed has called on the British Museum to release the more than 900 Benin Bronzes it has.■




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