Germany to return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria: A new era for stolen artefacts? | DW News

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  • DW News published this video item, entitled “Germany to return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria: A new era for stolen artefacts? | DW News” – below is their description.

    It’s being called a game changer – and the start of a new era. Germany has promised to begin returning the artefacts known as the Benin Bronzes to Nigeria next year, making it the first country to do so.

    Germany has a collection of just over 1,000 Benin Bronzes. They’re on display in museums in Cologne, Dresden, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Stuttgart. The sculptures and metal plaques are from the ancient Kingdom of Benin – which is today known as Edo State in southern Nigeria. The Bronzes were looted by British soldiers in 1897 and sold to museums in North America and Europe. The largest collection of the Bronzes is held by the British Museum.

    Nigeria has been trying to get the bronzes back for decades. Without success. But momentum has been building over the last few years… with calls growing ever louder for artefacts seized during the colonial era to be returned to their places of origin. Germany’s culture minister explained why Berlin had decided to act now. She said:

    ”We are confronting our historic and moral responsibility. We want to contribute to a common understanding and reconciliation with the descendants of the people who were robbed of their cultural treasures during the times of colonialism.”

    It’s not just the Benin Bronzes from Nigeria that are wanted by their rightful owners. There is also a claim from Cameroon from where a special artefact known as the Tangay was stolen from a local King. More than a century later it is still in Germany. But not everyone in Cameroon is of the view that it should be brought back to the country.

    In Douala, Cameroon Prince Kum’a Ndumbe III has been advocating for the return of the Tangue, a sculpture stolen from his grandfather in 1884. Prince Ndumbe has made a copy of the Tangue and put it on show in Cameroon.

    The original artifact – looted by the Germans during colonial times – is on display at a museum in Munich.

    But not everyone agrees that the Tangue should be immediately returned. Princess Marilyn Douala Bell is an artist and founder of an art center in Douala. Even though her great-grandfather was executed in 1914 for resisting German rule, Marilyn thinks Cameroon is not ready to receive the artefact.

    Others in Douala also claim to be the rightful owners of the Tangue. At least one more descendant of a Douala King has made a claim on the artifact. For Marilyn this is a source of concern. She wants the tangue to be returned but fears the conditions are currently not right.

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    In This Story: Benin

    Benin, officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. Formerly known as Dahomey, the country gained full independence from France in 1960.

    It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burkina Faso to the north-west, and Niger to the north-east. The majority of its population lives on the small southern coastline of the Bight of Benin, part of the Gulf of Guinea in the northernmost tropical portion of the Atlantic Ocean.

    The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country’s largest city and economic capital. Benin covers an area of 114,763 square kilometres (44,310 sq mi) and its population in 2018 was estimated to be approximately 11.49 million.

    The official language of Benin is French, with several indigenous languages such as Fon, Bariba, Yoruba and Dendi also being commonly spoken. The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism, followed closely by Islam, Vodun (commonly referred to as Voodoo outside the country) and Protestantism.

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  • In This Story: Cameroon

    Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon, is a country in Central Africa and West Africa.

    Cameroon is home to over 250 native languages spoken by nearly 25 million people. Cameroon became a German colony in 1884 known as Kamerun. In 1960, the French-administered part of Cameroon became independent. The southern part of British Cameroons federated with it in 1961 to form the Federal Republic of Cameroon. The federation was abandoned in 1972. The country was renamed the United Republic of Cameroon in 1972 and the Republic of Cameroon in 1984.

    The official languages of Cameroon are French and English. Its religious population consists of 70.7% Christians and 24.4% Muslims. It is governed as a Unitary presidential republic and has good relations with the major powers of France, the United Kingdom and China.

    The largest cities in population-terms are Douala on the Wouri River, its economic capital and main seaport, Yaoundé, its political capital, and Garoua.

    The country is well known for its successful national football team.

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    Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe. It lies between the Baltic and North seas to the north, and the Alps to the south.

    Germany is a federal parliamentary republic led by a chancellor. With over 83 million inhabitants of its 16 constituent states, it is the second-most populous country in Europe after Russia, as well as the most populous member state of the European Union. Its capital and largest city is Berlin, and its financial centre is Frankfurt; the largest urban area is the Ruhr.

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  • In This Story: Nigeria

    Nigeria, an African country on the Gulf of Guinea, has many natural landmarks and wildlife reserves. Protected areas such as Cross River National Park and Yankari National Park have waterfalls, dense rainforest, savanna and rare primate habitats. One of the most recognizable sites is Zuma Rock, a 725m-tall monolith outside the capital of Abuja that’s pictured on the national currency.

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