Africa’s looted heritage needs to come home

Posted By on 30th July 2015

Prized cultural and religious artefacts from Africa were looted and many now live in the basements of European and American museums, oceans away from their places of creation

This incredible panel is one of the Benin bronzes looted from the palace of the Oba.

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  1. The British Museum in London is known for its wealth of ancient treasures from the world’s civilisations. Go there and you’ll find inspiration, feel the vertigo of history and usually feel of a human connection with someone from another time and another place who saw beauty or meaning and paid tribute to it.

    However this institution is not without controversy. The most famous case is that of the Elgin Marbles. Ownership of these ancient Greek sculptures is hotly contested, with the British claiming that paperwork was carried out that justifies their holding on to them, but the Greek saying that they were obtained illegally and must be returned.

    The Elgin Marbles are not the only marvels held in the British Museum. So too are many of the spellbinding Benin bronze plaques, which are almost 500 years old. In 1897, the British launched a punitive epedition to the venerable Benin City, heart of an old kingdom headed by Oba (King) Ovonramwen. Troops sacked his palace, stole the bronze plaques that detailed the history and customs of the kingdom and exiled him – turning the kingdom into part of modern-day Nigeria.

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