The federal government of Nigeria has recorded another historical moment with the return of looted Benin Bronzes by Germany. The artefacts that were looted from Nigeria in the colonial era have now found their way back home.
On Tuesday, the government of Germany officially handed over 22 looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria. The 22 are part of 1,130 Benin Bronzes held in Germany, which they promised to return after a deal made earlier this year.
Speaking in Abuja, Germany’s Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock said “We are here to return the Benin Bronzes to where they belong, to the people of Nigeria. We are here to right a wrong, officials from my country once bought the bronzes knowing that they have been robbed and stolen. After that, we ignored Nigeria’s plea to return them for a very long time. It was wrong to take them and it was wrong to keep them.”
Nigeria’s Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed, said: “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.”
He thanked Germany for following through to return the artefacts and also noted that the action has sped up negotiations with other museums, countries and institutions, for the repatriation of Benin Bronzes in their possession, reports the Guardian.
The Minister called on British Museum to return the looted Benin Bronzes in its possession. He said that Nigeria has submitted an official letter to Museums around the world demanding the return of the artefacts.
He said “…The British Museum and all those holding on to our artefacts must understand that repatriation is a cause, which time has come. They must also understand that many of these cultural objects are not mere art to us, but the true essence of our being. They are not mere decorative works, but our culture and heritage. They belong here, not anywhere else!”
He stated that Nigeria is not only seeking the return of Benin Bronze but all Nigerian antiquities that were illegally exported. He said that true justice can only be served when these artefacts are returned.
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