Nigerian Team To Visit Germany To Retrieve Benin Bronzes 

Yemisi Izuora

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has revealed that a team from Nigeria would soon visit Germany to facilitate repatriation of Benin bronzes from the country.

Mohammed, said the visit is a follow up to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed between Nigeria and Germany in Abuja on Wednesday.

He described it as a major step toward the repatriation of hundreds of Benin Bronzes from Germany next year.

The Minister, who spoke when he received the German government

delegation that came to Nigeria for the signing of the MoU, said it

marked the beginning of efforts that will culminate in the signing, in

December 2021, of the agreement on the repatriation of the Benin

Bronzes.

He said a team of experts will leave Nigeria very soon to engage with

stakeholders in Germany on the repatriation of the artifacts.

“A team of experts will be visiting the some museum in Germany very

soon and the whole idea is again confidence building to especially

assuage their feeling of loss and make it lighter and easier for them

and to also make their position more tenable with the people,” he

said.

Alhaji Mohammed said even though Germany acquired the artifacts

through global trading in artifacts, it had voluntarily agreed to

relinquished them in order to further strengthen the bilateral ties

between Nigeria and Germany.

“The German Government and the German people have taken a bold step by

agreeing to voluntarily, without too much coercion on the part of

Nigeria, to return these artifacts. Because what the return of the

artifacts will do is that it’s going to really cement further

relationship between Nigeria and Germany. Culture today has become one

of the effective tools for soft diplomacy,” he said.

The Minister said with this gesture, German has become the first

country to willingly decide to return about 1,130 pieces of artifacts

to Nigeria, stressing that the gesture will further endear Nigerians,

especially the people of Edo State, to the people and Government of

Germany.

“The return of the artifacts should not be an end of an era but rather

the beginning of further cooperation between the two parties,” he

said.

In his remarks, the Director General for Culture and Communication of

the German Federal Foreign Office, Dr. Andreas Gorgen, said the

release of the artifacts is part of a cultural policy that will

contribute to healing the wound inflicted by the looting of the

artifacts from Nigeria and to establishing new relationship between

Germany and Nigeria.

He commended the efforts of the National Commission for Museums and

Monuments and said the signed MoU was based on what the Minister

initiated during his visit to Germany earlier in the year.

Members of the German delegation included the Director of the Museum

at Rothebbaum, Prof. Barbara Plankensteiner; President of the Prussian

Cultural Heritage Foundation, Prof. Hermann Parzinger and the German

Ambassador to Nigeria, Birgitt

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