US Returns Looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria
Lost-wax cast bronze, Nigeria, late 15th-middle 16th century. Height: 31 cm (12 inches). Located in Musee du Louvre, Paris, France.
Photo by VCG Wilson/Corbis via Getty Images

US Returns Looted Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

The North American country is the newest country to return looted items to Africa.

A West African sculpture originally belonging to a West African king is among the 31 artifacts that will be returned to the Nigerian government.

This artifact was originally in the collection of items displayed at the Rhode Island museum for over seven decades and is among 31 cultural items that have been taken back to the West African country. The artifact was initially called "Oba," which literally translated to the ruler of several people in western Nigeria. In 1976, the state was dissected into three states: Ogun, Ondo, and Oyo. The most recent geographic region is divided into nine major states: Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo States.

The pieces were originally taken in the late 19th century, and precisely in 1897, when the British colonial army raided the Benin Kingdom of Nigeria and forcefully took the items.

In a statement by the museum director, she affirmed that the actions would be taking place.

"In 1897, the 'Head of an Oba' was stolen from the Royal Palace of Oba Ovonranwmen," Sarah Ganz Blythe said.

Blythe also stated that the RISD was working with the Nigerian government to make the transition smooth.

"The RISD Museum has worked with the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments to repatriate this sculpture to the people of Nigeria where it belongs," Blythe said.

The recent report on repatriation is a worldwide phenomenon that other European countries have also been a part of. Egypt recently called on the U.K to return its Rosetta Stone artifact. Before that, numerous other African countries have called on European countries to return their cultural artifacts, many of which were stolen at the peak of colonial wars.

Abba Isa Tijani, director-general of Nigeria's National Commission for Museums and Monuments, said that he hoped the return of the historical items would inspire other countries to join the movement.

"We hope for great collaborations with these museums and institutions, and we have already opened promising discussions with them concerning this," he said in a released statement. "The entire world is welcome to join in this new way of doing things. A way free from rancours and misgivings. A way filled with mutual respect."