The Nigerian Government has demanded a full and unconditional return of 1,130 Benin Bronzes looted from the country in 19th century and domiciled Germany’s museum.
This demand was made by the West African country’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, in Berlin, Germany, on Wednesday, during a separate meeting with the German Minister of State for Culture, Monika Grutters, and the German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas.
The Special Assistant to the Minister (Media), Segun Adeyemi, issued a statement on thursday that Lai Mohammed only responded to comments by Grutters that Germany was ready to bring back the 1,130 looted artefacts.
Grutters reportedly said ”the way we deal with the issue of Benin Bronzes is important to addressing our colonial past,” describing the issues as ”an important personal concern”
Grutters said that own to the fact that delegations has been sent to Nigeria twice regarding the planned repatriation “is an indication that both sides have moved beyond mere talks”.
She said all the Museums in Germany that are holding Benin Bronzes have agreed to cooperate.
Reacting to this, Lai Mohammed said the issue of provenance which has to do with the place
of origin of the artefacts, should not unduly delay the repatriation of the art works.
The Minister said.”That they are known as Benin Bronzes is already a confirmation of their source of origin (which is Benin),”
He emphasized the need for both parties to commit to fixed timelines for the return of the Bronzes and that it would be necessary to conclude all necessary negotiations in a very short term.
According to him, the ongoing discussion between Nigeria and Germany on the
return of the art works is not just the end of an era but the beginning of a new vista of stronger relations, pivoted by cultural diplomacy, between both countries.