125 years after they were stolen from the Benin Kingdom during the Benin Expedition of 1897, 1,130 Benin Bronzes will now officially be returned to Nigeria. This is thanks to a historic collaborative declaration made by Nigeria and Germany.
Yesterday, the historic declaration was signed in Berlin, Germany.
Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, and Ambassador Zubairu Dada, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, signed on behalf of Nigeria.
Ms. Annalena Baerbock, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and Ms. Claudia Roth, the Minister of State for Culture and the Media, signed on behalf of Germany.
Mohammed expressed gratitude to the German government for the “single greatest return of antiquities anywhere in the world,” as he put it.
According to This Day, he said the authorities of the many German regions, provinces, museums, and organizations, have been working together to assure the realization of the history-making occurrence that we are experiencing today. We also want to express our great gratitude to them.
Germany has led the way in righting past wrongs by this one unique move.
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He said that many of the Bronzes in German institutions were transported there through trade and donations and that neither Germany nor its citizens participated in the theft of Nigeria’s treasures.
He said that however, Germany and the wonderful people of this country determined that it is preferable to change the past in order to shape the future.
Without a doubt, this trend-setting move by the Federal Government of Germany will signal the return of additional cultural artifacts to their original locations, as other museums and organizations are likely to follow its lead.
By giving Nigeria what it legitimately owns, Germany has made more friends in Africa and across the world, according to Lai Mohammed.
Ambassador Dada referred to Germany as the “champion of justice and fairness” on his part.
The German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Baerbock, declared that taking the bronze medals from Benin was “morally reprehensible” in her speech. “Keeping them for 125 years was inappropriate. This is the first step towards making things right.
Two of the Bronzes were given to Nigeria at the signing ceremony as a symbolic gesture of the upcoming repatriation of the artifacts.
High-ranking representatives of the Nigerian and German governments, including Mr. Yusuf Tuggar, the Nigerian ambassador to Germany, and Prof. Abba Tijani, the director-general of the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments, observed the signing.