The University of Aberdeen has succumbed to pressure to return a Benin Bronze sculpture to Nigeria. It is one of the first public institutions to do so after pressure began mounting for Britain to return the Benin Bronze sculptures and other artifacts it looted over a century ago.
The university said the sculpture of an Oba, or ruler, of the Kingdom of Benin, had left Nigeria in an “extremely immoral” fashion, leading it to reach out to authorities in 2019 to negotiate its return.
Neil Curtis, Aberdeen’s head of museums and special collections, said the Bronze, purchased in 1957, had been “blatantly looted”. “It became clear we had to do something,” he said.
Professor Abba Isa Tijani, director-general of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, said the importance of displaying the Bronze inside Nigeria for the first time in more than 120 years was inexpressible.
“It’s part of our identity, part of our heritage… which has been taken away from us for many years,” Tijani said.