Twenty historical bronze sculptures were returned in Nigeria by Germany in an effort to confront the country’s “dark colonial past,” the minister of foreign affairs said on Tuesday.
Annalena Baerbock, Germany’s foreign minister, handed over the highly treasured cultural artifacts to Nigerian officials during ceremony held in the capital city of Abuja. The bronzes, also known as Benin bronzes taken by in the West African country by British soldiers during the rule of colonialism.
“It wasn’t right to take the bronzes. It was not right to keep the bronzes, and it’s much past time to return the bronzes to their owners,” she said at the event.
Made of bronze and brass with designs from the past The sculptures were used as a symbol of honoring the Benin people’s ancestors and rulers.
More than 5,000 artefacts from the past are believed to have been taken out of Nigeria by England during the time it was the coloniser of Nigeria, according to Nigerian authorities.
The majority all the riches were snatched from the palace in Benin, the Kingdom of Benin which is which is now an area of Southern Nigeria — – and some were later in the hands of other foreign governments, including Germany.
In recent times, Nigerian authorities have intensified efforts to ensure that looted artifacts returned. This calendar year Germany committed to return over 1,000 artefacts over the next few years.
Nigeria is Germany’s second largest commercial partner outside of Africa as well. By returning items, Germany hopes to begin an entirely new chapter in bilateral relationships, said Baerbock.
“We think this is the first step. A lot of bronzes have been stolen and taken away, and there is a chance that they will return,” said Baerbock.
“This step is also important for us because we are dealing with our dark colonial past,” she said.
For activists, there should be more accountability over the mere return of items, for example, compensation for losses suffered by African nations over the decades of plundering.
“We focus only on physical objects. What are the digital properties that these work have? Who is the owner of these properties? What’s the next step for these artworks?” said Victor Ehikhamenor an Nigerian artist and activist for the cause of reparation.
“What other restitution and payments do they have to make for holding these works for a long time and making money from it?” He said.
The Czech army has received its first of the 15 tanks to be delivered from Germany to replace the tanks that were that were sent to Ukraine to strengthen its defenses.
German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall will supply Leopard 2A4 battle tanks and Buffalo armored recovery vehicles the Czech Republic in the context the international swap plan to facilitate the transfer of weapons to Ukraine which was approved during May between Czech Premier Petr Fiala, and German the Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Germany has struck similar deals in the past with Slovakia, Greece and Slovenia and Greece – supplying Western tools to those countries, which gave their Soviet-era stocks to Ukraine.
The Czech Defense Ministry says the remaining 14 tanks must be ready before the end of next year.