Two bronze statues of Benin were returned by British universities on Saturday to a palace in Nigeria. These statues were stolen by British troops over a century ago.
Bronze Benin statues were stolen from the Kingdom of Benin in present-day southwestern Nigeria and brought to Europe. They belong to the most important heritage of Africa. According to the British Museum, the statues were made in the sixteenth century.
At a ceremony marking the withdrawal of the two statues, Charles Edosomvan, a spokesman for the Oba Palace in Benin, said some of the bronzes had been preserved in New Zealand, the United States and Japan.
In an interview surrounding the ceremony, which was attended by traditional leaders, Edosomvan said, “These are objects that underscore the importance of our spirituality, not just art.”
Both images were returned by the University of Aberdeen and Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Another milestone in the long struggle of African nations to recover plundered works. As a result of colonialism many European companies still possessed these works.
French art historians estimate that 90 percent of Africa’s cultural heritage is in Europe. The Musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac in Paris alone holds about 70,000 African objects and tens of thousands of objects in the British Museum in London.
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