Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed has thanked the German Government for the repatriation of Benin artefacts to Nigeria.
Around 1,130 Benin Bronzes are expected to be sent back to Nigeria next year, after Germany resolved to willingly return the items which were taken during the slave trade era.
Recently, Lai Mohammed hosted the German government delegation that visited Nigeria to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.
German delegates included the Director of the Museum at Rothenbaum, Professor Barbara Plankensteiner; President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Professor Hermann Parzinger and the German Ambassador to Nigeria, Birgitt Ory.
According to a statement released by Segun Adeyemi, the spokesman of the Minister, Mohammed said the MoU “marked the beginning of efforts that will culminate in the signing, in December 2021, of the agreement on the repatriation of the Benin Bronzes.”
He labelled the MoU signed between Nigeria and Germany in Abuja as an important step toward the repatriation of hundreds of Benin Bronzes from Germany next year.
The Minister said: “The German Government and the German people have taken a bold step by agreeing to voluntarily, without too much coercion on the part of Nigeria to return these artefacts. Because what the return of the artefacts will do is that it’s going to cement further the relationship between Nigeria and Germany. Culture today has become one of the effective tools for soft diplomacy.
“The return of the artefacts should not be an end of an era but rather the beginning of further cooperation between the two parties.”
Mohammed revealed that a team of experts would soon leave Nigeria to engage with stakeholders in Germany on the repatriation of the artefacts.
He said: “A team of experts will be visiting some museum in Germany very soon and the whole idea is again confidence building to especially assuage their feeling of loss and make it lighter and easier for them and to also make their position more tenable with the people.”