By Renson Mwakandana
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock traveled to Abuja, Nigeria, to personally deliver a collection of more than 20 items that British colonial forces had taken more than a century before.
The ancient Kingdom of Benin, which was located in what is now southwest Nigeria, had its artifacts stolen.
“We are here to right a wrong. Officials from my country once bought the bronzes, knowing that they had been robbed and stolen. After that, we ignored Nigeria’s plea to return them for a very long time. It was wrong to take them but it was also wrong to keep them. This is a story of European colonialism”, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock made the statement.Annalena Baerbock
A British military force invaded Benin City in 1897, devastated it, and stole hundreds of sculptures made of metal and ivory.
The German minister emphasized the significance of this historical event when speaking at a ceremony with Nigerian leaders.
“We are not returning mere objects to you, to the Nigerian people today. We have learned from you within the last years, what we are returning is a part of your history, what we are returning is a part of who you are”, she said. The proposal by Germany is in line with comparable initiatives from former colonial powers like the United Kingdom, France, and Belgium.
“The British Museum and all those holding onto our artefacts must understand that repatriation is a course whose time has come. They must also understand that many of these cultural objects are not mere art to us but the true essence of our being”, according to Nigeria’s minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed.Lai Mohammed
Benin 🇧🇯, Nigeria’s neighbor, opened an exhibition of artworks and antiquities that France had returned following two years of talks earlier this year.