Nigeria has agreed with Germany for hundreds of artefacts stolen during colonial times to be returned from July next year and is negotiating with other museums to repatriate more, an official said on Tuesday September 14 2021.
Thousands of pieces of Nigeria’s so-called Benin Bronzes — 16th to 18th century metal plaques and sculptures — were stolen from the palace of the ancient Benin Kingdom only to end up in museums across the US and Europe.
Nigeria plans to build a museum in Benin City in southern Edo State where it hopes to house the bronzes, seen as among the most highly regarded works of African art.
“We have agreed on a timeline that actual return will start next year, 2022, which is going to be around July, August,” Abba Tijani, director of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments said of the bronzes in Germany.
“We finalise our agreement by December this year.”
Around 1,000 pieces have been identified for return from Germany, though the number will depend on their condition for transport back to Nigeria.
Some could be used in joint exhibitions with German museums, Tijani said, as long as they respect Nigeria’s perspective.