In a recently signed deal, Germany has reached an agreement to return Nigeria's looted Bronzes.
Germany just signed an agreement to return some of Nigeria's Benin Bronzes. These bronzes were originally taken from the African nation in the 19th century. Other European countries have been taking steps toward returning African artifacts. Earlier this month, a British museum said that it would be returning over 70 Benin cultural artifacts which were forcibly taken during the 1897 military rule to the Nigerian government.
According to reports from Aljazeera, the agreement happened on Thursday, Aug. 25, between the Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage (SPK) and Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM). For years, experts have estimated that approximately 90% of Africa's cultural heritage can be found all over European museums and storage facilities, and in the early part of the 20th century, many European museums were competing among themselves to discover which European art center had the most number of African historical items in their possession. According to reports, these competitions were not only prominent in large cities like Berlin and London, but also existed in smaller museums like the Linde Museum in Stuttgart. In the first massive restitution to Africa by a former European colonial power, last year France's President Emmanuel Macron shared that France would return 26 of Benin's artifacts that were stripped from a royal palace in Abomey, now Southern Benin in 1892.
For over a century, Africans fought to regain ownership and possession of the looted artifacts while they were housed in museums across the Europe and the United States, but they have become a long journey home.
Photo Credit: Bernd Weißbrod/picture alliance via Getty Images
According to the agreement, the items will be taken back to Nigeria this year, while many of the other objects will remain in Germany's custody for approximately ten more years as a loan. Nigeria's Abba Isa Tijani, a Nigerian professor, and the overseeing director general of the NCMM said that this was a positive step in the right direction, and urged other museums in possession of African artifacts to follow in Germany's footsteps.
“This represents the future concerning the artifacts issue; a future of collaboration among museums, a future of according respect and dignity to the legitimate requests of other nations and traditional institutions,” said Tijani.
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