German government has promised to finally return the precious artifacts that were looted during the colonial era to Nigeria.
Germany’s Ministry of Culture, state ministers, and museum directors in a joint declaration published on Thursday announced the first returns are planned for 2022.
The joint declaration stated that the government is committed to “substantive returns” of Benin artworks.
The artworks, made of bronze, brass, and ivory were taken by the British army in a raid on the Kingdom of Benin, in present-day Nigeria, in 1897.
They were subsequently distributed across the world and hundreds are currently held in German museums.
German Culture Minister, Monika Grütters in a statement described the declaration as a “historic milestone.”
Grütters said, “We face a historic and moral responsibility to shine a light on Germany’s colonial past.
“We would like to contribute to an understanding and reconciliation with the descendants of the people who were robbed of their cultural treasures during the colonial era.”
A historian and researcher at Nigeria’s Institute for Benin Studies, Osaisonor Ekhator-Obogie, who welcomed the declaration, said, Germany is “leading in the global restitution movement.”
Ekhator-Obogie added, “other European nations should be willing and open to acknowledge that all objects looted in 1897 belong to the Benin people.”
“Like Germany, they too should initiate or join the dialogue to discuss the future of these objects.”
“This decision was a truce with parties, not a win-win or winner takes it all. I will tell my children about this historic moment.”
Nigeria has sought the return of artifacts for decades.