Germany sends 20 bronze medals from Benin back to Nigeria, citing "dark past"
When England colonized Nigeria, it is believed that they stole more than 5,000 antique artifacts from the nation.
In an effort to address its "dark colonial past," Germany has returned 20 antique bronze sculptures to Nigeria, according to the country's foreign minister on Tuesday.
In a ceremony in the nation's capital, Abuja, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock handed off the priceless cultural artifacts to Nigerian officials. The statues, which are referred to as Benin bronzes, were stolen from the West African nation by British forces during its colonial era.
"Stealing these bronzes was wrong. It was wrong to keep these bronzes, and their return to their rightful place is long overdue," she said at the occasion.
The sculptures, which were made of cast brass and bronze with archaic motifs, were used in rituals to honor the ancestors and rulers of the Benin people.
According to Nigerian authorities, during its time as the nation's colonizer, England is thought to have taken more than 5,000 antique artifacts from Nigeria.
The majority of the artifacts were taken from the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin, which is now a part of southern Nigeria, and some of them ended up in the possession of other foreign governments, such Germany.
Nigerian authorities have stepped up their efforts in recent years to get the stolen artifacts back. Germany promised to return more over a thousand of them earlier this year.
Nigeria, Germany's second-largest economic partner in Africa, aims to open a new chapter in future bilateral relations by returning the goods, according to Baerbock.
"We consider this to be the first step. Since many bronzes have been stolen and robbed, many will return," said Baerbock.
She added, "We are coping with our dark colonial past, so this move is also crucial for us."
Geoffrey Onyeama, the minister of international affairs for Nigeria, expressed his country's "deep thanks" to Germany for returning the artifacts. According to him, they are significant to Nigerians on a cultural and spiritual level in addition to their visual appeal. On moral reasons, he urged England and other nations that were in possession of such artifacts to return them.
A greater sense of responsibility, according to activists, is required. This responsibility should extend beyond the simple restitution of the stolen goods.
"We are just paying attention to the tangible things. What are these works' digital assets like? The owner of those properties? And what is in store for these works?" remarked Nigerian artist and supporter of reparations Victor Ehikhamenor.
"What additional reparations and compensation are required of them for keeping these works for so long and profiting from them?" he questioned.
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