News November 27, 2018 at 04:00 pm

Like France, the UK is set to return looted artefacts to Nigeria but only temporarily

Elizabeth Ofosuah Johnson | Staff Writer

Elizabeth Ofosuah Johnson November 27, 2018 at 04:00 pm

November 27, 2018 at 04:00 pm | News

-image- Son of Groucho/Flickr

French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that his country will return 26 artefacts taken from Benin in 1892.

The thrones and statues, currently on display at the Quai Branly museum in Paris, were taken during a colonial war against the then Kingdom of Dahomey.

The statement comes a few months after Macron announced that a commision had been set up to look into the issue of returning looted artefacts to their rightful African countries during a joint press appearance with the President of Benin, Patrice Talon.

The announcement by France that the artefacts should be returned “without delay” has sparked discussions about the return of all African artefacts in European museums, especially with information that the U.K. had decided in October to return Nigerian artefacts on a temporary basis.

According to the CNN the collection of priceless artefacts taken by British soldiers from the Kingdom of Benin (in present-day Nigeria) more than a century ago and on display at the British Museum are set to head back to Nigeria but only for three years.

An agreement between the Benin Dialogue Group (BDG) and the British Museum in London, reached in October 2018, indicates that “some of the most iconic pieces” will head to Nigeria for an exhibition at the Benin Royal Museum in Edo State for three years and then be returned to the British Museum, which currently houses  some of the most valuable Benin Bronzes in the whole of Europe.

Benin Bronzes at the British Museum

“The key agenda item (at the October meeting) was how partners can work together to establish a museum in Benin City with a rotation of Benin works of art from a consortium of European museums,” the spokesman of the British Museum said.
He added: “The museums in attendance have all agreed to lend artefacts to the Benin Royal Museum on a rotating basis, to provide advice as requested on building and exhibition design, and to cooperate with the Nigerian partners in developing training, funding, and a legal framework for the display in a new planned museum.”
The agreement was 11 years in the making as the BDG was formed in 2007 to address restitution claims. On behalf of the new  Benin Royal Museum, the group has been working hard at getting more European museums to return looted artefacts and for them, the partnership with the British Museum is a step forward in the right direction.

There is no information yet on the exact type and number of bronzes that will be returned to Nigeria for the three-year duration but the two committees are set to meet in 2019 in Nigeria to discuss the agreement in detail.

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