Germany to return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

Germany is to return precious artefacts that were plundered from Nigeria during the colonial era in the late-19th century. The world-famous Benin Bronzes are currently on display at a museum in Leipzig. The Bronzes comprise a collection of more than a thousand metal plaques, sculptures and statues. They were created by the Edo people in what used to be the Kingdom of Benin from the 13th century. They decorated the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin, in what is now Nigeria. Most of the objects were looted by British forces in 1897. Two hundred pieces were taken to the British Museum in London, while others went to museums across Europe. Nigeria has tried for decades to get them repatriated.

Experts say the 16th-18th century returning pieces are among the most highly regarded works of African art. Many Nigerians are welcoming their return. Nigeria's Institute for Benin Studies said Germany is, "leading in the global restitution movement" of former colonial powers returning looted treasures. It said: "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." However, some Nigerians believe the objects are safer in Europe. One man said: "With the insecurity now, the safety of those artefacts cannot be guaranteed."