Germany returns looted Benin artefacts to Nigeria

ad fg receives repatriated benin bronzes from germany in abuja
ad fg receives repatriated benin bronzes from germany in abuja

Germany handed over 20 looted artefacts back to Nigeria on Tuesday, saying it was to “right a wrong” more than 100 years after they were stolen by British colonial troops.

Thousands of 16th to 18th century metal plaques, sculptures and objects — hailed as some of the finest African art — were ransacked by British forces from the ancient Kingdom of Benin and ended up in museums and art collections across the US and Europe.

Germany’s return of part of the hundreds of bronzes it still holds comes as international momentum grows for the restoration of African artefacts from other former colonial powers Britain, France and Belgium.

German Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock travelled to Nigeria’s capital Abuja to personally hand over the objects, which included figureheads and other artefacts.

“What we are returning is a part of your history, what we are returning is a part of who you are


“We are here to right a wrong,” Baerbock said at the ceremony with Nigerian officials.

Many of the Nigerian artefacts were originally taken in 1897, when a British military expedition attacked and destroyed Benin City, making off thousands of metal and ivory sculptures and carvings.

A new online archive “” has started to provide a centralised hub of images and descriptions of more than 5,000 artefacts held in 131 institutions around the world.

The project, which began planning and research two years ago, was inaugurated last month in Benin, the Edo State capital.

The Republic of Benin had earlier this year inaugurated an exhibition of artworks and treasures returned by France after two years of negotiations.

Those 26 pieces were stolen in 1892 by French colonial forces from the capital of the former Kingdom of Dahomey.