The Nigerian Government has stated that it wants the full and unconditional return of the 1,130 Benin Bronzes that were looted from Nigeria in the 19th century and domiciled in German museums.
This was disclosed by Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, during separate meetings with the German Minister of State for Culture, Prof. Monika Grutters, and the German Foreign Minister, Mr Heiko Maas.
What they are saying
Mohammed, while reacting to a comment by the German Cultural Minister that returns should be “substantial”, said Nigeria demands the total return of the stolen art rather than substantial.
He added that the issue of provenance, which has to do with the place of origin of the artefacts, should not be allowed to unduly delay the repatriation of the artworks, adding, ”That they are known as Benin Bronzes is already a confirmation of their source of origin.”
Mohammed thanked the Government of Germany for taking the lead in the global efforts to repatriate all artefacts that were looted from Nigeria and indeed from the African continent.
”We see Germany as a leader in the efforts to take practical steps to repatriate our stolen artefacts, and we hope Germany will sustain that lead,” he said
The Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki, a member of the delegation revealed that a modern museum is being built in Benin City to house the artefacts upon their return, citing he attended talks to show the partnership involving the Federal Government of Nigeria, the (Benin) royal family and the people of Edo State.
German Minister of State for Culture, Prof. Grutters, said ”the way we deal with the issue of Benin Bronzes is important to addressing our colonial past,” describing the issues as ”an important personal concern,” adding that the 1,130 artefacts would be returned to Nigeria from the beginning of 2022.
What you should know
Recall Nairametrics reported last month that the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees Berlin’s museums, announced it has started the process to return looted Benin Bronzes plundered in the 19th century.