21 Benin Bronzes returned to Nigeria by Germany while Britain refuses

Dec 29, 2022 | Arts, Culture, News | 0 comments

Germany has announced that it will be returning 21 Benin bronzes to Nigeria, amid ongoing debates about the rightful ownership of cultural artefacts. The Benin Bronzes are a group of brass and bronze sculptures and plaques from the Kingdom of Benin, which is now present-day Nigeria. They were taken by British forces in a punitive expedition in 1897 and have been held in museums and private collections around the world ever since.

While Germany’s decision to return the Benin Bronzes has been widely praised, it has also highlighted the contrasting stance of the United Kingdom, which has so far refused to return any of the thousands of Benin Bronzes in its possession.

The UK has argued that returning the Benin bronzes would set a precedent for other claims on cultural artefacts and that it has a responsibility to protect and preserve them for the benefit of all. However, Nigeria and other proponents of repatriation argue that the Benin bronzes are a vital part of their cultural heritage and should be returned to their rightful owners.

Germany’s decision to return the Benin bronzes comes after a long process of consultation with Nigerian authorities and is seen as a significant step towards addressing the ongoing issue of colonial-era plunder and the restitution of cultural artefacts. It is hoped that other countries will follow Germany’s lead and work towards finding a resolution to this complex and contentious issue.