Wed. Jun 7th, 2023

A historic antiquities return ceremony was held in Nigeria’s capital, with German Foreign Minister Annalina Bierbock and other officials returning 20 Benin bronze statues stolen from the African country.

Germany returns looted antiquities from Nigeria
Germany returns looted antiquities from Nigeria


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“Today we are here to return the bronze statues of Benin to the people, the people of Nigeria, to whom they belong,” German Foreign Minister Annalina Bierbock said at a ceremony in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on Tuesday. The owner.”

The repatriation of 20 prized bronze statues looted by British colonialists in 1897 and sold to museums around the world was also hailed as a “historic day” by German Culture Minister Claudia Roth. “We want to return things that were never ours,” he said.

The priceless artefacts are a small fraction of the 1,130 stolen works of art housed in several German museums. Made from bronze, ivory and other precious materials, these highly significant works of art are among the most important works of art in South Africa.

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said during his welcome speech, “Twenty years ago, even ten years ago, no one could have imagined that these precious bronze artifacts would be returned. There were insurmountable obstacles. But today, the exemplary behavior of a friendly country, Germany, has changed the whole story.”

“This process of returning artefacts is to acknowledge the injustices of the colonial past, including the theft of valuable assets,” Roth told DW. He added that the return of these priceless bronze artifacts “is an attempt to reclaim the cultural identity that we stole.” Nigeria will hold a major antiquities exhibition in early 2023 to celebrate the return of the bronze statues.

“The Nigerian public will be allowed to see these returned artefacts. A part of our history, a part of our identity is coming back,” said Aba Isa Tejani, Director General of the National Commission of Museums and Historical Buildings of Nigeria. ” “It’s definitely a very emotional moment for me,” he added.

It is important to remove the dark past

Speaking at the ceremony in Abuja on Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Annalina Bierbock urged Germany to reflect on its role in looting during the colonial past and address its failure to return the items quickly.

He said, “Officials from my country bought the bronze statues knowing they were looted and stolen. After that we ignored Nigeria’s request for their return for a long time. It was wrong to buy these antiquities and it was also wrong to keep them.”

“This is a story of European colonialism. It is a story in which our countries have played a dark role, which has caused enormous suffering to millions of people in different parts of Africa,” Beerbok said.

Germany announces assistance in construction of new museum in Nigeria

Nigeria is planning a special exhibition of Benin bronze sculptures and a modern museum to house them. German Culture Minister Roth said that the return of the looted statues is also a sign that we need to talk about cooperation between modern art and museums, here and now, and create a joint project that will build new campuses and archeology. Be helpful in promoting. He said that Germany will provide financial support in the construction of the museum and support in archaeological excavations.

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