A 125 years after they were stolen, Nigeria has recovered 31 Benin bronzes from three museums in the United States.
Stolen Benin Bronzes Returned To Nigeria By US
The artefacts were returned on Tuesday.
Out of the 31 artefacts, 29 were returned by the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art while one was recovered from the National Gallery of Art, and another from the Rhode Island School of Design Museum.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, and the Director-General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Abba Tijjani witnessed the transfer of the artefacts.
The Oba of Benin, represented by Aghatise Erediauwa, also witnessed the repatriation ceremony on Tuesday at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC.
Lai Mohammed, while speaking at the event, said, “We have also received or are in the process of receiving repatriated artefacts from The Netherlands, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, Mexico, the University of Cambridge in the UK, and Germany, among others.
“Let me state clearly that Nigeria, as part of the global cultural heritage tradition, will not depart from the norms already established by practitioners in this field.
“Therefore, our museums will sustain the tradition of exchanges and collaborations with museums in the United States and other parts of the world.
“Nigeria looks forward to working with these institutions on joint exhibitions and other educational exchanges. By returning the artefacts, these institutions are together writing new history pages.
“Their brave decision to return the timeless artworks is worth emulating.”
Meanwhile, Germany is also expected to return to Nigeria, over 1,130 looted Benin bronze artefacts.
The information minister signed an agreement with the German government for the repatriation of the stolen artefacts.
According to him, Nigeria is getting positive responses from France and Mexico to also return stolen artefacts.
He noted that the world has realised that it is an ethical and moral issue to return the artefacts to their owners.
“This is important for the British Museum to understand and for the British government to know because I was also in the British museum to ask them to return thousands of the artefacts in its custody,” he said.
“The standard response is that until the British parliament changes the status, they are not in a position to do so.
“The US and Germany are now seeing that this matter is not of law but morality, it’s about doing the right thing. I hope that the British government will also learn from the two countries and do the same.”
The minister added that Nigeria is planning to sign an agreement with the UK on November 28 to return about 86 other artefacts from various museums in the country.
In other news, Kanyi Daily reported that Mexico returned an ancient bronze sculpture that was illegally exported from Nigeria.