A London Based Museum to Return 72 Stolen Artifacts to Nigeria | Benin Bronze

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Horniman Museum says it is set to return stolen artifacts to Nigeria after years of illegally keeping the items.

A London-Base Museum to Return 72 Stolen Artifacts to Nigeria | Benin Bronze


The London base Museum agreed to transfer the ownership of the items early this week. This agreement came after Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) requested for the artifacts to return to Nigeria earlier this year.


Effort is ongoing by the Nigerian Museum Commission and the Federal Government of Nigeria to return all stolen artifacts, especially, the Benin Bronze to Nigeria from different European countries.


About The Benin Bronze and the Other Artifacts to be Returned by the London Museum


The items to be returned to Nigeria by the London Museum are parts of the famous Benin Bronze that were looted in the 19th Century from the Kingdom of Benin, in modern-day Nigeria. They include 1 brass cockerel, 12 brass plaques, and a key to the palace of the ancient Benin King.


Europeans looted Africa and destroyed several African Kingdoms in the 19th Century in bloody wars that led to the colonization of the continent. One of the most famous Kingdoms that failed to surrender to the British was the Benin Kingdom.


The Benin Kingdom also known as the Edo Kingdom was one of the oldest and most developed Kingdoms in the coastal hinterland of West Africa. The Kingdom refused to accept British rule after several attempts by the British to bribe them.


In 1897, the British troop led by Admiral Harry Rawson invaded the famous Benin Kingdom with 1200 armed men, killed thousands, and looted over 700 Artefacts from the Kingdom to England. This attack led to the end of the Great Benin Kingdom that has existed since the 15th Century.


Several artifacts looted from the Benin Kingdom have been displayed in Museums around Europe. The British hold the highest collections of these priceless artifacts.


Some European countries, like Germany, have returned some of the looted items to Nigeria. However, despite continuous outrage and complaints, UK have failed to return all its artifacts to Nigeria.


The British Act of 1963 and the National Heritage Act of 1983 prohibit the British from permanently returning those stolen items. Until this day, the head of a Yoruba King, Ife, is reportedly kept by the London Police. The Bronze head is about 700 years old and worth over $24.5 million.

Horniman Museum to Return 72 Stolen Artifacts including Benin Bronze to Nigeria


Thousands of Nigerian-owned artifacts have spread around the world. Some were taken during the British expedition while some were stolen by individual Europeans and sold through different generations.



Why it Matters to Return the Artefacts to Nigeria


The move to return the stolen artifacts to Nigeria by the Horniman Museum is a step forward and creates a new hope that, someday, those items will return to where they were stolen. Also, it will encourage others who have not returned yet the looted artifacts to handover them over to the rightful owners.

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