It has been 104 years since Benin City: the Majestic City the British burnt to the ground was looted and destroyed. Now, a century later, two of the numerous Bronze statues that were taken at the time, are being returned. Some may ask, who cares about 2 Bronze statues? These statues are not just a symbol of the craftsmanship of the Benin people, but they also symbolize the essence of the people. Back in those days, the statues were not used like they are by Europeans, to be placarded in museums, they had a symbolic, and some even had a spiritual or energetic importance. Below are excerpts from the article on the Guardian’s website.
Two Benin bronzes were returned on Saturday [19 February 2022] to a traditional palace in Nigeria, more than a century after they were pillaged by British troops, raising hopes that thousands more artefacts could finally be returned to their ancestral home.
The artefacts, mostly in Europe, were stolen by explorers and colonisers from the once-mighty Benin Kingdom, now [part of] south-western Nigeria, and are among Africa’s most significant heritage objects. They were created as early as the 16th century onwards, according to the British Museum.
At a colourful ceremony to mark the return of a cockerel sculpture and head of an Oba or king, spokesperson Charles Edosonmwan for the Oba palace in Benin City noted that some of the bronzes were kept as far away as New Zealand, the United States and Japan.
The two artefacts were handed over to the Nigerian High Commission in October by the University of Aberdeen and Cambridge University’s Jesus College but had yet to return to their ancestral home.
“They are not just art but they are things that underline the significance of our spirituality,” Edosonmwan said in an interview on the sidelines of a ceremony attended by traditional leaders.
… About 90% of Africa’s cultural heritage is believed to be in Europe, French art historians estimate. Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris alone holds about 70,000 African objects and London’s British Museum tens of thousands more.