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Germany To Return All Benin Artefacts By 2022

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Germany To Return All Benin Artefacts By 2022
Pair of Busts: King (Oba) and Queen, 2006. Edo, Nigeria. Brass. Weltmuseum Wien, Vienna Photo Credit: www.metmuseum.org/

Germany has on Tuesday, May 18 agreed to return all stolen Benin artefacts by 2022.

The artefacts are those taken from the Benin Royal Court following the British incursion in 1849.

Most of the artefacts were looted by British forces during a military expedition to the kingdom, in what is now Nigeria, in 1897.

The 16th-18th century metal plaques and sculptures that decorated the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin are among the most highly regarded works of African art. They are now scattered around European museums.

This was announced on Tuesday at a press briefing in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

The event was attended by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; and the German delegation.

At the meeting, the German Director-General Culture and Communication, Dr Andreas Gorgen said Germany acknowledges that Nigeria has suffered a loss.

He said Germany is on a restitution mission to Nigeria, to return all artefacts taken from the Benin Empire.

Gorgen also announced that Germany will partner with Nigeria in the area of culture promotion and preservation

The artefacts are to be returned to Benin, Edo State capital.

The restitution debate began many years ago, but were largely ignored by Western museums. It was also a taboo topic among anthropologists. According to anthropologist Snoep, a lot of Africans began making the call decades ago.

African intellectuals first started this debate. Now we only hear the voices of Western museum directors and politicians. But the good fight started in Africa,” Snoep said.

The curator adds that she hoped “it doesn’t become a white on white dialogue again.”

Most European former colonial powers have begun a process in recent years of considering the return of looted artefacts to the former colonies, especially in Africa.

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