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The German museum where most of Benin’s looted artefacts will come from

In April, Germany announced that they will be returning 1,130 looted artefacts to Benin, Edo State from the beginning of 2022.

This good news was revealed during a meeting between German and Nigerian government officials including the German Minister of State for Culture, Prof. Moniker Grutters and Nigeria Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

Some Benin artefacts looted by the British in 1897 to be returned from Germany from 2022. Source: Unknown

One reason Germany decided to come forward with the artefacts was acknowledged by Grütters “in agreement that addressing Germany’s colonial past is an important issue for the whole of society and a core task for cultural policy” and “reaffirmed their willingness in principle to make substantial returns” to Nigeria.

Of the 1,130, almost half is on display at the Ethnologisches Museum, and at least two bronzes are in the collections of the Museum Berggruen.

Benin artefacts in Ethnologisches Museum of the State Museums of Berlin

They include Elephant tusks, hairpin, the head of a court dwarf, the King and his accompanying figures and much more. Full list of aretfacts displayed at Ethnologisches Museum of the State Museums of Berlin are available here.

There is no clear agreement yet on where these artefacts will be displayed on their return.

The Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, hopes to move these into a new museum that is currently being developed – Edo Museum of West African Art, however the Oba of Benin would ideally like to house the object inside a museum within the palace wall.

What are Benin artefacts?

Benin artefacts are traditional carvings created by the Bini people of Edo State, to display as an homage to their culture and lifestyle.

In 1897, British troops invaded the kingdom of Benin, drove the then king – Oba Ovonramwen Nogbaisi – into exile, destroyed their palaces and shrines and looted their belongings including its people and artefacts.

Overtime, the British sold these artefacts to countries around world.

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