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Return of Benin bronzes to catalyse colonial healing process, says Tuggar

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
08 May 2022   |   4:04 am
Nigeria Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, has urged the German authorities to fast track the process of returning 96 pieces from the Benin cultural properties forcibly taken by British Colonial forces 125 years ago to their rightful home.

Yusuf Tuggar PHOTO:NAN

Nigeria Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, has urged the German authorities to fast track the process of returning 96 pieces from the Benin cultural properties forcibly taken by British Colonial forces 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 the 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, yesterday, in Abuja, insisted that completing the process of returning the Benin objects is the right thing to be done now.

“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.

“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.

“The debate around restitution and colonial reappraisal has recharged cultural diplomacy around the world, with Germany and Nigeria as role models. This new energy seeks to redefine the concept of Museums and the way they present themselves to the world. Restitution is not just about returning objects; it is also about sharing ideas and perspectives and a better understanding of humanity.
 
“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.”