5-speed listening (Benin Bronzes - Level 5)

Germany to return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria






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Germany will return artefacts that were stolen from Nigeria during the colonial era in the 19th century. The Benin Bronzes are currently in a museum in Leipzig. The Bronzes consist of more than a thousand plaques, sculptures and statues. The Edo people made them from the 13th century in what was the Kingdom of Benin. They decorated the royal palace in what is now Nigeria. British forces looted most of the objects in 1897. Two hundred pieces were taken to the British Museum, while others went to museums across Europe. Nigeria has tried for decades to get them returned.

Experts say the pieces being returned are among the most highly regarded works of African art. Many Nigerians welcome their return. The Institute for Benin Studies said Germany is, "leading in the global restitution movement" of former colonial powers returning looted treasures. It said other countries should acknowledge that the objects looted in 1897 belong to the Benin people. These countries should discuss the future of the objects. Some Nigerians believe the objects are safer in Europe. One man said: "With the insecurity now, the safety of those artefacts cannot be guaranteed."

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