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 News reports.


"[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: Aisha Asamany

How Relocating to Ghana Helped Reinvigorate Jewelry Designer Aisha Asamany's Work

Moving to Ghana gave Aisha Asamany's luxury jewelry brand, inspired by Adinkra symbols that traditionally project strength, fearlessness, love and power, renewed verve to tell personal stories of her growing clientele.

In 2019, the government of Ghana made a global splash with its Year of Return initiative – the campaign sought to encourage the African diaspora to return home to the continent, specifically to Ghana.

Linked to the 400th year commemoration of the first recorded landing of slaves in the United States, it became a launchpad for the Ghanaian government to convince Black people around the world to permanently settle in the West African country.

Aisha Asamany, a corporate management consultant for high-profile UK financial institutions turned self-taught luxury jewelry designer was one of many who heeded the call, trading in the corporate life for a spiritual and an entrepreneurial journey – one of joy, appreciation, and representation in her fatherland.

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Music
Photo by Timothy Norris/Getty Images

Wizkid, Tems, Black Coffee & More Nominated For 2022 Grammy Awards

See the full list of African artists honored during Tuesday's nomination ceremony.

Next year's Grammy nominations are in and Africa showed up and out!

The 64th annual Grammy music awards are on the horizon, and Tuesday's nomination ceremony covered a lot of ground within the music industry. Not surprisingly, Wizkid's Made In Lagos (Deluxe) received a nod for Best Global Music album, with the stellar and globally adorned track "Essence" featuring Nigeria's Tems being nominated for Best Global Music Performance. Nigerian favorites Femi and Made Kuti's joint project Legacy+ received a nomination under the Best Global Music Album category.

Other notable nods include; Beninese singer-songwriter Angélique Kidjo's collaboration with Nigerian powerhouse Burna Boy, as well her performance with American cellist Yo-Yo Ma received under the Global Music Performance category. South Africa's Black Coffee's album Subconsciously made its mark within the Best Dance/Electronic Music Album category with his own nomination, and Ghanaian artist Rocky Dawuni under Best Global Music Album.

The music ceremony will be hosted in Los Angeles, US on January 31 2022 and we're excited to see who snags the highly coveted awards during next year's ceremony. In the meantime, let us know on Twitter who you're excited to see perform.

Keep scrolling to see the full list of African artists nominated for next year's Grammy award ceremony.

Check out the full list of nominees here.

Best Global Music Performance

"Mohabbat," Arooj Aftab

"Do Yourself," Angelique Kidjo and Burna Boy

"Pà Pá Pà," Femi Kuti

"Blewu," Yo-Yo Ma and Angelique Kidjo

"Essence," Wizkid featuring Tems

Best Global Music Album

"Voice Of Bunbon, Vol. 1," Rocky Dawuni

"East West Players Presents: Daniel Ho and Friends Live in Concert," Daniel Ho and Friends

"Mother Nature," Angelique Kidjo

"Legacy +," Femi Kuti and Made Kuti

"Made In Lagos: Deluxe Edition," Wizkid

Best Dance/Electronic Music Album

"Subconsciously," Black Coffee

"Fallen Embers," Illenium

"Music Is the Weapon (Reloaded)," Major Lazer

"Shockwave," Marshmello

"Free Love," Sylvan Esso

"Judgement," Ten City

Photo: Mini Cho

Mini Cho and the Renaissance of African Surf Culture

Competitive surfing helped Mini Cho find his place in the world. Now he wants to bring other Mozambicans into the fold.

While competitive surfing may be relatively new for much of coastal Africa, the existence of wave-riding has always been embedded within the rich diversity of African cultures. The recently released book Afrosurf, explores the renaissance of African surf culture, and the communities that have cultivated it.

The origins of surfing are commonly associated with Polynesian and Hawaiian culture, but historians, like University of California history professor, Kevin Dawson, have collated documented evidence of the independent history of African wave-riding from as early as the 1640s.

Yet, the development of professional surfing has created a surfing culture that has been predominantly framed from a Western perspective.

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