London museum to return looted African artefacts

LONDON: A prominent museum in the UK announced on Sunday that it is planning to return 72 African artefacts looted during the colonial period of the British Empire.

The Horniman Museum in South London agreed to return the stolen and famed artefacts, including some known as the Benin bronzes, to Nigeria following a request from that country’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), Anadolu Agency reported.

“The evidence is very clear that these objects were acquired through force, and external consultation supported our view that it is both moral and appropriate to return their ownership to Nigeria.

“The Horniman is pleased to be able to take this step and we look forward to working with the NCMM to secure longer term care for these precious artefacts,” said Eve Salomon, the museum’s chair of trustees.

The artefacts were forcibly removed from the ancient settlement of Benin City in present-day Nigeria by British colonial forces following a military incursion in 1897.

The collection includes 12 brass plaques, known as the Benin bronzes, a brass cockerel altar piece, ivory and brass ceremonial objects, brass bells, everyday items such as fans and baskets, and a key ‘to the king’s palace’.

“We very much welcome this decision by the Trustees of the Horniman Museum and Gardens.

“Following the endorsement by the Charity Commission, we look forward to a productive discussion on loan agreements and collaborations between the National Commission for Museums and Monuments and the Horniman,” Abba Tijani, the director-general of the NCMM said.

The London museum received the request from the NCMM in January this year and undertook an extensive analysis of the objects to ascertain which ones met the commission’s requests. – BERNAMA 

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