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Nigeria’s Bronze Artifacts Returning Home

Nigeria’s Bronze Artifacts Returning Home

By CultureBanx Team

  • 26 cultural artifacts are being returned from France

  • 90% of Africa’s cultural heritage is now believed to be in Europe

Beautiful Benin Bronze art pieces, that once called modern day Nigeria home are finally being returned from France. There are 26 cultural artifacts which were removed from Africa during the colonial era undergoing restitution from France to the country.

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Why This Matters: Around 90% of Africa’s cultural heritage is now believed to be in Europe, according to Reuters. The art in question is currently housed at the Musee du Quai Branly museum in Paris and they were seized in 1892 as the spoils of war.  

Nigeria first lost the majority of the bronze art when British soldiers seized thousands of metal castings from the then separate Kingdom of Benin in the 1890s. The haul included thousands of metal plaques as well as ivory and wooden carvings.

Western museums have argued they preserve the objects in their care and expose them to a global audience

Western museums have argued they preserve the objects in their care and expose them to a global audience. London has resisted campaigns for the full return of Nigeria’s bronzes. Other governments including Ethiopia and Greece, have rejected the idea of loans and demanded full returns, saying they should not have to borrow their own stolen property. Edo State in Nigeria hopes to open a museum by 2021 to house several hundred of the artifacts, lent short-term by the British Museum, among others.

Situational Awareness: In the summer of 2018, Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo where Benin City is now located told Reuters he had been talking to European museum officials who have floated the idea of returning the objects on loan. “In some cases it could be a permanent loan and in some cases it [would] just be for temporary display. In other cases it could be a return of works,” Obaseki said. In preparation for the art’s possible return, the current king of Benin has already started making plans for a three story museum to show off the plaques.

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