GERMANY has agreed to return over 7,000 historical artefacts plundered from Ancient Benin Kingdom to Nigeria by October this year as part of the ongoing programme to reverse the colonial plundering of Africa.
During the British colonisation of Nigeria, Benin suffered from the worst atrocities when troops invaded the city in 1897, massacring thousands and carting away many priceless artefacts. This historic items made of wood, ivory and bronze, have since found their way into public museums and private collections across Europe.
Several European museums such as London’s Horniman Museum are also planning on returning Nigerian artefacts including bronze statues obtained using colonial violence during the 1897 massacre. Collections at the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill include plaques, figures and ceremonial items taken from the Kingdom of Benin in 1897.
Revealing that this process is well under way, Gabriel Aduda, the permanent secretary in Nigeria’s ministry of foreign affairs, said the repatriation of the artefacts would go with building an ultramodern museum in Edo State and the training of some curators. He revealed this at the inaugural Nigerian Cultural Show, exhibiting Nigeria’s diverse cultural heritage, sites and traditional festivals held at the Cultural Centre, Nigeria House, New York.
According to Mr Aduda, Nigeria had reached an advanced stage of discussions with Germany to return thousands of different pieces of Benin bronzes back to the country. He added that the ministry had been at the forefront alongside relevant ministries, departments and agencies to facilitate the repatriation of thousands of Benin artefacts from the Republic of Germany.
Mr Aduda said: “We are working with relevant ministries, departments and agencies and have had several high level meetings with the Republic of Germany, so we are at stage where thousands of art works are to be returned to Nigeria. There are over 7,000 different pieces of artefacts that Republic of Germany wants to give back to Nigeria.
“We have talked deep into this that the reparation is not only at giving back but they are coming to put a modern day museum in Edo State and they are training 25 curators that will man the museum for sustainability. We have gone far and we are thinking that this will be concluded in October this year, so we are hoping it will be a window to reach out to other European countries to return to us what was taken from us years back.”
He added that the Argungu International Fishing Festival and the Osun-Osogbo Festival promoted at the event are just two of the many festivals that characterise Nigeria. In his remarks, a New York’s Senator Robert Jackson, urged black people to be proud of their race and culture.