Germany has signed an agreement to transfer ownership of 512 Benin Bronzes back to Nigeria. The National Commission for Museums and Monuments of Nigeria (NCMM) and the Foundation of Prussian Cultural Heritage (SPK) signed the agreement (NCMM).

According to a statement from the foundation, the organization will receive the first items from the Berlin Ethnological Museum this year and return them to Nigeria. A third of the moved items will be shown in the Humboldt Forum in Berlin for an initial ten-year loan period, it was said.

Why this matters

  • The Benin Bronzes are a collection of thousands of metal sculptures and ivory carvings that were taken from the West African kingdom of Benin in 1897. Benin was located in what is now southern Nigeria’s Edo State.
  • After being sold by businesspeople and dealers, the majority ended up in European museums.
  • The German government declared its desire to return hundreds of Benin Bronzes in April 2021.
  • This is the largest return of cultural artifacts stolen from the continent in the 19th century.
  • Britain has also made moves to return the artefacts in their possession.
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