Church of England promises to return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria

On a plaque that adorned the palace of the Obas of Benin, the Oba followers are shown pouring liquid from a calabash container. Nigeria. Edo. Probably at the end of the 17th century. Benin City. (Photo by Werner Forman / Universal Images Group / Getty Images)

T.The Church of England has promised to return two Benin bronzes to Nigeria as the dispute over the return of African treasures continues to grow.

The Evening Standard reports that Lambeth Palace said it was “currently in discussion” about the return of works donated to then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Robert Runcie, nearly 40 years ago.

You will likely end up at the planned Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA), which is being built in Benin City to showcase the treasures of the African kingdom that is in what is now Nigeria.

Benin was attacked by British forces in 1897, with around 5,000 works of art looted and distributed around the world, which is now being tracked by an online project collecting information about them.

A spokeswoman for Lambeth Palace said: “We were recently contacted by the Digital Benin project at MARKK (Hamburg), who asked about our gift collection at Lambeth Palace and whether we had received gifts from the Kingdom of Benin over the years.

In response, we confirmed to the Digital Benin Project that we had two bronze busts that were donated to us by the Kingdom of Benin in 1982. These were Archbishop Robert Runcie from His Excellency (Prof.) Ambrose F. Alli and the University of Nigeria, Nuskka.

“We offered to include the two busts in the Digital Benin project and eventually returned to our friends in Edo, Nigeria, where they may stay. We are currently in talks with EMOWAA through the Legacy Restoration Trust to arrange this. “

The move comes under increasing pressure on institutions to return looted works of art. The Horniman Museum in Forest Hill is one of the most recent to take steps to possibly return exhibits.

The museum has worked with Nigerian Londoners to develop its policy and says it is open to the “possible return” of objects acquired “at different times and in a range of circumstances, some of which would not be appropriate today.” , for example through violence or other forms of coercion ”.

Horniman’s statement goes on to say: “We understand that for some communities – whether in countries of origin or in the diaspora – the keeping of certain objects, natural specimens or human remains is perceived as an ongoing injury or injustice.”

The requirement for exhibits to be returned to their original countries is one of the major problems facing London’s major museums.

In 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted the return of African artifacts kept in French museums and a report recommended that anything recorded “without consent” during the French colonial era should be permanently returned.

(With contributions from agencies)

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