Great Benin kingdom artifacts returned

Great Benin kingdom artifacts returned

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By Akinsuroju Olubunmi

Great Benin kingdom artifacts returned

Great Benin kingdom artifacts returned

Frustrated by the delay of some Western countries in returning the looted Benin Bronzes, Nigerian artists both at home and abroad have concluded that the exploitation of Africa’s artifacts persist


Dr. Bolaji Ogunwo, a painter and lecturer at the University of Lagos, has urged those holding these artifacts to state their terms for returning them to end the ongoing debate and bring the works home. “Benin was robbed at gunpoint during the 1897 punitive expedition, and many works of art were taken. The exploitation of Africa is still ongoing,” Dr. Ogunwo emphasize


Fidelis Ugochuku Atumah Abiamuwe, a Nigeria-born influential sculptor and painter based in New York, USA, has incorporated the theme of Africa’s exploitation into his works. One of his notable pieces, “When will Africa be free from Colonialism and Exploitation?” depicts Africa as a young virgin, illustrating the continent’s ongoing exploitatio


The initial resistance to the idea of restitution by some Western countries was followed by some steps towards returning the artifacts. Yet, in recent times, the reluctance of these countries and individuals to return more stolen artifacts has been evident. This hesitation is often justified by proponents of a shared and universal heritage, who argue that such works should remain in ‘encyclopedic’ or ‘universal’ museums in Europe and Americ


In 2002, some Western countries and museums signed a document titled “Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums,” justifying the retention of artworks stolen from other parts of the world. Peju Layiwola, an artist and professor of art history at UNILAG, noted that almost all the signatory museums belong to nations that participated in the 1884/1885 Berlin Africa Conferenc


Eighty-six years ago, the British returned pieces of Oba Ovonramwen’s coral regalia to his grandson, Oba Akenzua II. More recently, in October 2021, Jesus College at the University of Cambridge returned a Benin Bronze cockerel to the Oba of Benin, making it the first institution in the world to return a Benin Bronze to Nigeri


On December 20, 2022, Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock handed 22 stolen artifacts from Benin back to Nigeria. This return was part of a deal to transfer ownership of more than 1,000 such artifacts. However, the establishment of the Edo Museum of West African Art to house these artifacts has been marred by disputes over ownershi


Despite these returns, many questions remain about the whereabouts of the artifacts and their accessibility to the public. The delay in the return of more artifacts and the ongoing profit made from them by Western countries highlight that the exploitation of Africa continues, often with the collaboration of African leaders and elite

Great Benin kingdom Artifacts Returned

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