A bronze sculpture, believed to have been stolen from Nigeria to Mexico, has been returned to the West African country, Nigeria.
The artifact, which dates back to the 6th century, is from the collection of the historic Yoruba bronze sculptures. The sculpture is of a man wearing headgear and holding an object.
Customs officials in Mexico City seized it from a man at the city’s airport.
Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History ascertained that the sculpture was of Nigerian origin and returned it via Nigeria’s ambassador to Mexico, Aminu Iyaw.
Mexico’s foreign affairs office issued a statement through its deputy secretary saying, “We oppose the illegal commercialisation of archaeological pieces, an important cause of the impoverishment of the cultural heritage of the nations of origin, since it undermines the integrity of cultures and, therefore, of humanity.”
A lot of artifacts from historic African cultures are smuggled outside their native countries annually.
This is apart from the decades-long fight by African countries to retain artworks that were stolen by European colonizers centuries ago.
There are over 430,000 pieces of indigenous African artworks shared among some top museums in France, Germany, Belgium, Austria, and the UK.
In 2018, the French government released the report by a commission it had set up to investigate the matter. Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr and French historian Bénédicte Savoy concluded that some 90% of known material arts of ancient Africa is outside the continent.