The University of Abeerdan in Scotland has announced that it will fully repatriate a Benin Bronze sculpture to Nigeria due to the ‘extremely immoral’ acquisition of the artefact.
The University of Abeerdan in Scotland has announced that it is in the process of returning a stolen Nigerian artifact. This comes after the unending calls for the repatriation of artifacts taken during colonization from African countries. The university’s senior management has heeded this call and a Benin Bronze belonging to Nigeria will be returned to the country within the next coming weeks.
The university is one of many Western institutions that received thousands of looted bronze sculptures by British soldiers in Benin City (modern day Nigeria) in 1897, this according to BBC. The Benin Bronze is of an Oba (king) of Benin and was reportedly acquired by the university in 1957 at an auction. The senior management of the university found the “extremely immoral” manner in which the artefact came into the university’s possession a problem and decided to fully repatriate the Benin Bronze. According to EWN, the the vice-chancellor, George Boyne, admitted that it would not be right for the university to have “retained an item of such great cultural importance that was acquired in such reprehensible circumstances.”
Last year, the French government voted in favour of returning hundreds of thousands of looted African artefacts. However, the process of repatriation is arduous and admittedly unfair. The host country has to prove that the artefact indeed was stolen and belongs to them. Such is the case with a 600-year-old Nigerian artefact that was smuggled into the Netherlands where the Nigerian government went through months of appeals for its return. The University of Abeerdan is reportedly the first university to fully repatriate the Benin Bronze which has put pressure on the British Museum to follow suit.
Nigeria is not the only country that will see the return of highly valued cultural artifacts. The University of Aberdeen has previously agreed to repatriate sacred items and ancestral remains to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The return of all looted artifacts from indigenous cultures around the world is admittedly overdue. It is a painful reminder of the prevailing injustice of Western institutions that hold hostage cultural knowledge from around the world.