Nigeria gets looted Benin-art back

German museums will return art treasures looted from the former Kingdom of Benin. This was recently agreed upon by representatives of the German and Nigerian governments in Berlin. The former Kingdom of Benin is now part of the West African country of Nigeria. British colonial troops had looted the capital’s palace 125 years ago and taken bronze sculptures and reliefs, among other things. The art treasures were subsequently auctioned off in London to finance the military action. There are about 1100 art objects from Benin in German museums. Stuttgart’s Linden Museum owns about 78 objects from the former kingdom. This museum will also participate in the return.
tünews-INTERNATIONAL contributor Bright Igbninovia is Edo and co-founder and secretary of the association Edo Union Reutlingen, Germany. Here he summarizes the history of art theft and its consequences for the people: Benin City was the principal city of the Edo Kingdom of Benin. It flourished from 13th to 19th centuries. In 1897, British colonial troops destroyed the city after the Edo assaulted an earlier British expedition. This expedition had been told not to enter the city during a religious festival. The expedition had nonetheless attempted to do so. Benin City is renowned for its bronze casting. Bronze casters ply their trade along Igun Street.
After the invasion in Benin British troops took away the traditional ruler (king) in 1897 and many items. These objects were and are significant to the beliefs and the tradition of the people of Benin. Each of these items had different tasks for the faith and tradition of the land. The absence of the objects of value in their original territory still pains the people today. The robbery has created a big emptiness in the history and reality of belief, culture and traditions for the people who live traditional faith.
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Lindenmuseum Stuttgart. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL / Majd Kanjou.


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