On Wednesday, October 13, Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, praised the German government for repatriating Benin antiques from the European country.
After Germany agreed to return the artefacts taken during the slave trade era, about 1,130 pieces of Benin Bronzes are scheduled to be restored to Nigeria next year.
Lai Mohammed welcomed a German government group to Nigeria on Wednesday for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.
Prof. Barbara Plankensteiner, Director of the Rothenbaum Museum, Prof. Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, and Birgitt Ory, German Ambassador to Nigeria, were among the German delegation members.
Mohammed stated the MoU “represented the commencement of steps that would culminate in the signing, in December 2021, of the agreement on the repatriation of the Benin Bronzes,” according to Segun Adeyemi, the Minister’s spokesman.
He hailed the MoU between Nigeria and Germany inked in Abuja as a significant step toward the repatriation of hundreds of Benin bronzes from Germany next year.
“The German government and people have made a courageous step by deciding to repatriate these relics voluntarily and without undue duress on Nigeria’s behalf. Because the return of the treasures will strengthen the bond between Nigeria and Germany. “Today, culture has become one of the most effective soft diplomacy tools,” the Minister stated.
“The repatriation of the artefacts should not mark the end of an era, but rather the start of a new period of cooperation between the two sides.”
According to Mohammed, a team of experts will depart Nigeria soon to meet with stakeholders in Germany about the artefacts’ return.
“A group of experts will be visiting a museum in Germany very soon, and the whole goal is to reassert their confidence in order to soothe their sense of loss and make it lighter and simpler for them, as well as to make their stance more tenable with the general public.”
Dr. Andreas Gorgen, the German Federal Foreign Office’s Director-General for Culture and Communication, said the artefacts’ release is part of a cultural policy that will help heal the wounds caused by the looting of the artefacts from Nigeria and establish a new relationship between Germany and Nigeria.