Greater than 5,000 historical artefacts are estimated to have been looted from Nigeria by England when it colonised the nation.
Twenty historic bronze sculptures have been returned to Nigeria by Germany as a part of efforts to handle its “darkish colonial previous,” its overseas minister mentioned on Tuesday.
Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s overseas minister, returned the prized cultural artefacts to Nigerian officers in a ceremony within the capital, Abuja. The sculptures, often known as Benin bronzes, have been looted from the West African nation by British troops when it was underneath colonial rule.
“It was fallacious to steal these bronzes. It was fallacious to maintain these bronzes and it’s lengthy overdue to return these bronzes to their house,” she mentioned on the occasion.
Solid in brass and bronze with historical designs, the sculptures have been utilized in rituals to honour the Benin individuals’s ancestors and rulers.
Greater than 5,000 historical artefacts are estimated to have been stolen from Nigeria by England, when it was the nation’s coloniser, mentioned Nigerian authorities.
A lot of the treasures have been stolen from the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin — now a part of southern Nigeria — and a few ended up within the custody of different overseas governments together with Germany.
In recent times, Nigerian authorities have intensified efforts to have the looted artefacts returned. Earlier this 12 months, Germany pledged to repatriate greater than 1,000 of them within the coming years.
Nigeria is Germany’s second-largest commerce accomplice in Africa and by returning the gadgets it hopes to start out a brand new chapter for future bilateral relations, mentioned Baerbock.
“We see this as a primary step. Many bronzes have been looted and stolen, so many will come again,” mentioned Baerbock.
“This step can also be necessary for us as a result of we’re coping with our darkish colonial previous,” she mentioned.
Nigeria’s overseas affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama mentioned the nation felt “deep gratitude” to Germany for returning the artefacts. Past their aesthetic worth they’ve cultural and non secular significance to the Nigerian individuals, he mentioned. He known as on England and different international locations in possession of different artefacts to return them on ethical grounds.
Activists say there must be extra accountability that goes past the return of the gadgets, similar to compensation for the losses incurred by African international locations all through years of looting.
“We’re solely specializing in the bodily objects. What concerning the digital properties of those works? Who owns these properties? And what’s coming with these works?” mentioned Victor Ehikhamenor, a Nigerian artist and advocate for reparation efforts.
“What different restitution and funds have they got to make for holding these works for a very long time and being profitable from it?” he mentioned.