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University of Aberdeen set to returns Oba of Benin artefact

The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II.
The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II. Credit: PeoplesGazette

The University of Aberdeen, Scotland, has announced that it will return a Benin Bronze artefact to Nigeria, one of over a thousand artefacts pillaged by the British, in the coming weeks.

The university acquired the bronze sculpture showing an Oba of Benin in 1957 at an auction.

The university released a statement on Thursday saying that the bronze sculpture left the country in an “extremely immoral” fashion.

“An ongoing review of the collections identified the head of an Oba as having been acquired in a way that we now consider to have been extremely immoral, so we took a proactive approach to identify the appropriate people to discuss what to do,” the statement said.

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The university further explained that it had previously repatriated sacred items and ancestral artefacts to Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The university had first approached the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments, the Royal Court of the Oba of Benin and the Edo government in 2020,

Channels Television reported that Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, described the release of the bronze work as a right step in the right direction.

The University of Aberdeen’s museum is one of around 45 British institutions that still hold the looted Benin artefacts.

Returning the artefact to Nigeria will make the institution the first to commit to full repatriation of a Benin bronze piece.

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