FG demands immediate return of all Benin Bronzes in Germany | Dailytrust

FG demands immediate return of all Benin Bronzes in Germany

Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, has urged the German authorities to fast track the process of returning 96 pieces of Benin’s cultural properties taken by British Colonial some 125 years ago to their rightful home.

Tugger, who made this demand while delivering a speech at “I Miss You Exhibition” in Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne, said Nigeria is pleased with the progress made in the negotiations with both the German government and Museums and looks forward to signing agreements for their return in the very near future.

The ambassador, in a statement in Abuja, lamented the long inactivity of Cologne and called for the completion of the process of returning the Benin objects.

“Cologne is always a City I relish visiting because one gets the feeling that Cologne always finishes what it starts. It started building one of the most beautiful Cathedrals in the world in the year 1248 and finished 632 years later in 1880.

“In the same vein, Nigeria remains confident that the 96 pieces in Cologne from the Benin cultural properties forcibly taken by British Colonial forces barely 125 years ago shall be returned to their rightful home.

“It is important in appreciating the Benin bronzes on display, to consider their teleology. Those who created them did so for a purpose, some cultural, some spiritual and some quite simply utilitarian.

“One cannot fully appreciate the bronzes without taking into consideration their Raison D’etre, and that can only be achieved if we return them from whence they came for a better understanding.

“To appreciate the importance of teleology, we must remind ourselves that Cologne’s magnificent Cathedral was built to house the shrine of the Three Kings. Now imagine, if you will, that the Reliquary of the Three Magi were to be stolen at gunpoint and the emptiness that would be created in the soul of this proud city.

“Make no mistake, the traditions and ceremonies in which many of the Benin objects played a central role have continued without them, often with poor substitutes. And this, answers one of the questions posed in the invitation: Who Misses Them?

“The return of the Benin Bronzes promises to catalyse the colonial healing process like no other before, because of the exceptional nature of how they were acquired.

“Unlike many other stolen cultural properties that were taken from archaeological dig sites, here is an open-and-shut case of a colonial power with superior weapons sacking and pillaging a City, killing its citizens, and even taking pictures with the looted items- the modern equivalent of sending a postcard back home. Even the Oba of Benin was not spared; he was taken away the same way the Bronzes were.

“It is our fervent hope, that the return would also become a salubrious genesis for a re-examination of the teleology of Museums as a whole, particularly ethnological and archaeological museums that could do with ontological adjustments in the 21st century.

“Nigeria is pleased with the progress made in the negotiations with both the German government and Museums and looks forward to signing agreements for their return with both in the very near future.”

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