Art

Major European Museums Plan To 'Loan' Stolen Benin Bronzes Back To a New Museum Opening in Nigeria

The Royal Museum is due to open in 2021, displaying the Benin bronzes that were looted during the Benin Expedition of 1897.

The controversial conversation surrounding art repatriation continues as a new museum opening in Nigeria in 2021 will make way for stolen artifacts to return home—temporarily.

Major European museums have reached an agreement with Nigeria to "loan" significant artifacts to the Royal Museum, Artnet Newsreports.


"[Nigeria's] Royal Museum will house a rotating display of artifacts, including the Benin bronzes that were looted during the Benin Expedition of 1897," Artnet continues. "The agreement marks a significant step after years of negotiations among European institutions and Nigerian authorities."

This agreement was a result of the Benin Dialogue Group, consisting of Nigerian representatives and European museum officials, who gathered in the Netherlands to hold negotiations in the beginning of this month. Artnet notes museum leaders from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain will facilitate a display at the planned institution within 3 years. Details regarding which specific objects will be "loaned" over what period of time have yet to be determined.

The artifacts that have been at center stage during this debate were looted by the British army during a "punitive expedition" in 1897, where the army stole about 4,000 elaborate sculptures, such as what we now know as the Benin bronzes, from the king's palace in the former Kingdom of Benin.

"I am happy we are making progress in the effort to give our people the opportunity to once more access our heritage that was looted," Prince Gregory Akenzua, Enogie of Evbobanosa, states in a press release.

Although critics acknowledge this is a step in a right direction, they stress that it's important that this doesn't replace the need to push negotiations further towards ownership.

"This, and many other things in the museum world, is about power," Niama Safia Sandy, cultural anthropologist and curator, tells OkayAfrica in an April interview.

"The thinking for leadership at museums and heritage institutions is, 'if we return this country's artifacts, we'll have to return that country's artifacts' and it is basically a matter of blood in the water. What is to stop every country in the world outside of the West from requesting their cultural artifacts back? I agree that a fully inclusive and cosmopolitan view of the world's histories and heritages must be shown and preserved but the manner in which the items are procured really should be considered."

The Benin Dialogue Group states that the loans indeed do not represent the "end point in negotiations," and that Nigeria has not waived any claim to outright ownership of the objects.

The group plans to meet again in 2019 in Benin City, Nigeria before gathering once more at the British Museum in London in 2020.

Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Idris Elba Wants to Build a Film Studio In Tanzania

Renowned British actor Idris Elba is planning to open up a film studio in Tanzania, reports say.

Celebrated British actor Idris Elba is planning to open a film studio in Tanzania. The news was revealed by Tanzania's Director of Presidential Communications, Zuhura Yunus, during a press conference. According to Yunus, the plan for the studio was set in motion during Elba's meeting with President Samia Suluhu Hassan at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.


“Discussions on the project have just begun, and if successful, the project will help not only Tanzania but also Eastern and Central Africa,” said Yunus.

In the past, Elba, who is also an award-winning actor, filmmaker and musician, has made concerted efforts to be involved in, and contribute to the African entertainment industry. In the past, he has featured on songs with prominent African artists like D'banj, Drizilik, and Phyno, among others. Although he is a celebrated Hollywood actor, Elba has always stayed connected to the motherland and has made several efforts to represent his own Sierra Leonean and Ghanaian roots.

In an interview with South Africa's SA People News in 2022, the British movie star mentioned that he wants to shoot more films in Africa, as well as contribute in building and developing the future of the African film industry.

“Young Africans view me as a leader or a beacon. And I feel like I could bring something. So I’m keen to bring what I’ve learned in media and amplify it in Africa,” the Beast actor said at the time.

During the interview, the actor also mentioned that the continent deserved "real tender care."

“I’m really keen on the development of Africa. My parents come from Africa and more than anywhere in the world, I feel like that continent deserves some real tender care and love and thought.

Elba has historically represented Africa in powerful rooms that he has walked into

During the US-Africa Leaders Summit’s; Africa Digital Innovation Competitors event, he did not hesitate to place the importance of the African entertainment market at the forefront of his conversation.

“If there are any investors listening or watching today if you do not consider Africa as a viable investment, you’re not considering yourself or your future. Africa’s future is your own future and vice versa,” said Elba at the time.“We do not need aid anymore, we need innovation. We need partnership,” he added.

While there are no new updates on the move to build the studio in Tanzania, it seems as though the process is underway.

(YouTube)

The Best Amapiano Songs Out Right Now

Featuring Aymos, Uncle Vinny, Blaqnick & MasterBlaq, 2woBunnies, Balcony Mix Africa, and more

It's only been few weeks in and 2023 is already promising to be one of the most impactful years for amapiano internationally.

The recent announcements of Uncle Waffles and Major League DJz being billed to play at Coachella and Tomorrowland, respectively, earmarks the continuing steady rise of amapiano on the global stage. Drake (who recently likened listening to Kelvin Momo’s music to a religious experience) included some ‘piano tracks in his DJ set at a listening session in NYC. After its introduction to the festival last year, Afrochella’s Piano People stage is also heading to Miami this coming May with the likes of Focalistic, Musa Keys, Vigro Deep and TxC expected to perform.

With that said, we introduce our monthly round-up, solely dedicated to amapiano. Here are the amapiano songs and music videos that caught our attention this month.

Keep reading...Show less

The Best Ghanaian Songs Out Right Now

Featuring Sarkodie, Shatta Wale, Bisa Kdei, Darkovibes, Kelvyn Boy, and more.

We’re at the top of a brand new year, and you know what that means: brand new music!.Our favorite Ghanaian artists have already begun to stir things up with brand new tunes. From history-making collaborations to drill posse cuts, we bring you all the new heat from Ghana. Check out our picks of the best Ghana music of the month below.

For more music lists, check out our Songs You Need to Hear This Week roundups and our regional monthly lists for Nigeria, South Africa, and East Africa.

Keep reading...Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

Everything You Need to Know about Arise Fashion Week 2023

The popular fashion event heads back to Nigeria for a special celebration of African fashion and music.

Watch Burna Boy's Down-to-Earth Video For "Common Person"

The Nigerian superstar shares a memorable video for "Common Person," a creative visual presentation of Nigerian humanity amid the ebbs and flows of day-to-day life.

Spotlight: Animator Umaimah Is Here To Romanticize Your Life

We spoke with the Nigerian digital visual artist about inspiration being everywhere, and in every thing.

The Best South African Songs Out Right Now

Featuring Bongeziwe Mabandla, Sjava, Tyla, Blxckie, Msaki, AKA x Khuli Chana, and more

popular.

Asake Kicks Off His Year With New Single 'Yoga'

The Nigerian superstar shares his first single of 2023.