Showing results 37 - 48 of 52 for the tag: Nigeria.

June 22, 2009

Why are major African art exhibitions only shown in the Western world?

Posted at 1:18 pm in Similar cases

Museums often claim that they are popularising culture – that they are displaying artefacts from the past to people who would never otherwise have seen them. In many cases though, this creates a new split – that the original creator / owners are no longer to see their own culture. Surely understanding ones own culture should be given as much (if not more) importance as understanding that of others? Is it possible to understand other cultures without understanding your own first?


Datum: 23.06.09 09:32
Von: Dr. Kwame Opoku
Are major africa Art exhibitions only for the western world? Ife art exhibition begins in Spain but will not be shown in Nigeria or any other african country

A major exhibition on Ife art, Dynasty and Divinity: Ife Art in Ancient Nigeria, opened on June 16, 2009 at the Fundación Marcelino Botin, Santander, Spain and will move from there to the Museum for Africa Art, New York, United States and later to the British Museum, London, United Kingdom. The exhibition however will not be shown in Nigeria or in any other African country. (1)

The exhibition consists of some 120 excellent bronze, terra-cotta and stone sculptures from 12th – 15th century from Ife (or more correctly, Ilé-Ife), the spiritual capital of the Yoruba in South-western Nigeria and the place where, according to Yoruba mythology, creation took place; the gods, Oduduwa and Obatala descended from heaven to create the earth as directed by the Supreme Deity, Oludumare. The objects in the exhibition have been loaned by the Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) which is working in collaboration with the Fundación Marcelino Botin, the Museum for African Art and the British Museum.
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Spotlight on stolen Benin artefacts

Posted at 1:13 pm in Similar cases

Artefacts lost from Benin in 1897 continue to be a source of controversy today. They were removed from the country during a massacre to suppress a local uprising, yet now they sit in museums around the world who refuse to fuly acknowledgej the original ownership of these pieces.

The Guardian, Nigeria

Friday, June 19, 2009
Peju Layiwola’s Refreshing spotlight on stolen Benin artifacts
By Mufu Onifade

THE university don/artist, Dr. (Mrs.) Peju Layiwola is angry. The pent up anger has built up for years. But she is now ready to pour out the venom. And the cause she is championing appears genuine. Every artistically enlightened Nigerian – nay African – should be agitated by the continued western pillage of artifacts from Africa. Peju is angry and the only medium of expression at her disposal is art. This, at least, is an undercurrent that runs through some of her recent works already earmarked for a solo effort entitled The show focuses on European imperialism in Africa, with particular reference to Benin at the turn of the 19th century. Apart from the books of history, Ola Rotimi captures the pitiable stories of helpless Benin in the hands of ruthless British soldiers in a tragic epic, Ovonramwen Nogbaisi. Although, many Benin indigenes did not agree with Rotimi’s version of the story, which flies on the wings of dramaturgy rather than historical accuracy, Ahmed Yerima was commissioned in 1997 to re-write a more appealing version, which he titled Oba Ovonramwen. At least, the two plays agree on the spate of tragedy and injustice unleashed on Benin.
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April 5, 2009

Looted Benin artefacts could be worth over £1.3 billion

Posted at 1:02 pm in Similar cases

Mnay excuses are made by museums for continued retention of disputed artefacts. These aretefacts are often important to the original owners from a cultural perspective, but in many cases also have a significant monetary value attached to them that can not be ignored.

The Punch (Nigeria)

Looted Benin artefacts, others may be worth N313bn
By Akeem Lasisi
Published: Thursday, 2 Apr 2009

As prices of art works continue to appreciate in the local and international markets, agitators for the repatriation of about 6,500 Nigerian antiquities illegally being held in various museums and other collections in European countries and beyond have put the monetary value at N313bn.

Mostly involved are Benin bronzes, ivories and other ancient works looted by British colonialists, especially during the reprisal attacks launched by the Queen‘s soldiers against natives trying to resist imperialism in 1897.
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October 21, 2008

The lack of progress in Benin

Posted at 12:58 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The winds are starting to change for the reunification of cultural property held in the West, as evidenced by high profiles cases involving Italy, Greece, Ethiopia & others. So far though, Nigeria has not secured the return of any artefacts, despite the fact that the heritage of the kingdom of Benin sits in many of the West’s great institutions & was typically acquired in circumstances of questionable legality.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Tue, 21 Oct 2008

The lack of reaction from Western holders of Benin artefacts to the several calls
by Nigerians for restitution is causing anger in many circles.

The report below deals with the renewed calls by the Benin National Council for restitution and a declaration of intention to resort to legal proceedings and what is described as “self-help”.
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October 20, 2008

More demands for the restitution off looted benin artefacts

Posted at 6:47 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

As each day goes by, more & more demands are made for the reunification of looted artefacts. Many institutions continue to ignore such issues, hoping that they will go away – whilst rather than disappearing the campaigns are getting stronger with each day that they are ignored.

Modern Ghana


Hardly a day passes by without some call for the return of the stolen cultural objects of Benin. In the whole of Africa people are incensed when they hear about the unjustified invasion of Benin by the British in 1897 and above all, the looting and burning of Benin City. Most Africans cannot believe that the Europeans who preached Christian morality could at the same time have been involved in stealing cultural objects of Africans, who according to European propaganda had an inferior culture. Many an African is even more infuriated to realize that the so-called primitive objects are on show in respectable museums in the United States, Great Britain, Germany and France that refuse to contemplate the return of these objects. One starts wondering about the relations between the museums and the plunderers.
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October 10, 2008

What benefit does Africa get from collaboration in international exhibitions

Posted at 12:58 pm in Similar cases

In today’s globalised climate of art exhibitions drawing artefacts from around the world, much is made of the benefits to everyone of sourcing these pieces that might otherwise have not been seen. Is this something that really benefits the source communities though, or is it more of a one way process?

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Sat, 08 Nov 2008

As readers may know, many Africans are very suspicious of collaboration with museums and institutions that have shown by their history and practice that they do not care much for the interest and feelings of Nigerians and Africans generally. In the article below by Tajudeen Sowole, a Nigerian art critic raises several issues concerning the cooperation between Nigerian museums and institutions with European/American museums. In particular, he wonders whether the collaboration between the Nigerian institutions and American/European museums in the recent exhibition Benin: Kings and Rituals-Court Arts from Nigeria has brought us closer to the restitution of the Benin artifacts or whether these objects will remain in Europe under the pretext that they are part of the universal heritage of mankind.
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October 6, 2008

The museums of the West & the Benin Bronzes

Posted at 12:31 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

There are Benin Bronzes in what seems like almost every one of the large museums in Europe & the US. This article tries to summarise the key issues regarding their continued retention.


European and US American Museums and the Benin Bronzes
Written by Dr. Kwame Opoku
Sunday, 05 October 2008

The following are some of the essential points about the Benin bronzes that the reader must know and always bear in mind when reading about the looted cultural artefacts now in European and American museums.

1. Thousands of beautiful and fine Benin art objects were stolen by the British in 1897 when they illegally invaded Benin City, executed some nobles, exiled the Oba (King) and burnt the city.
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September 19, 2008

Nigeria’s claims for the return of looted artefacts

Posted at 12:54 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Kwame Opoku looks at how widely spread the Benin Bronzes are amongst museums of the west – but few of these institutions show any indication of willingness to enter into negotiations about how they might be repatriated.


Nigeria: The Quest of Reclaiming Stolen Cultural Objects from Western Countries
Vanguard (Lagos)
21 September 2008
Kwame Opoku

Last Thursday, on our Arts and Book Review pages, we published an article titled ‘Western countries may return stolen Benin artifacts if…”, where the spokeswoman of the Art Institute in Chicago, United States, Erin Hogan, was said to have expressed the willingness of the Western countries to return stolen Benin artifacts to the country if asked to do so by the Nigerian government.
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September 15, 2008

How often does Nigeria have to ask for artefacts to be returned?

Posted at 4:49 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

As with the Elgin Marbles, many looted Nigerian artefacts are similarly split between different museums around the world – at the start of this article, an illustration is given of a plaque showing a soldier – the top half of it is in the British Museum & the bottom half of it is in London. None of it is currently in Nigeria.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Mon, 15 Sep 2008

When I read reports on the opening of the exhibition Benin Kings and Rituals: Court Arts from Nigeria on 8 February 2008, at the Ethnology Museum, Berlin, I was surprised by the general impression given that the Nigerians were in no hurry to recover the stolen Benin bronzes; they were said to be more interested in co-operation with the Ethnology Museum and above all, in establishing an inventory of the Benin artefacts. (2)

As readers know by now, it has become a hallmark of this travelling exhibition that speeches made at the opening are not fully reported. The museum hosting the exhibition does not issue any full report on the opening. The reason seems to be the desire to avoid raising issues fundamental to the relations between the hosts and Nigeria, such as the issue of restitution of the Benin bronzes. Experience however, has shown that wherever this travelling exhibition went there were controversies regarding restitution. Questions were raised in different manners and with different intensities.
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August 18, 2008

Avoiding the subject of provenance

Posted at 12:43 pm in Similar cases

Even otherwise excellent books published by museums, can tend to gloss over how items came to leave their homelands.
If museums aren’t ashamed of how artefacts were acquired, then why don’t they discuss it clearly.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Fri, 15 Aug 2008

This book corresponds to what I think the average visitor to an exhibition needs: a short introduction to the subject-matter, with illustrations and sufficient information for the reader to understand the significance of the theme without being burdened by too many pages.
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August 17, 2008

Why Nigeria’s treasures must be protected

Posted at 5:49 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

A response to the earlier editorial article about how corruption threatens the security of some ancient artefacts in Nigeria.

Modern Ghana

By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Wed, 13 Aug 2008

There are probably few countries in the world that can boast of such an abundance of cultural treasures as Nigeria, one of the richest countries in the world. But Nigeria has also an enormous amount of organizational problems which are also reflected in the cultural area. The constant lamentations about the weak security in many Nigerian museums often cause distress to those concerned about the fate of cultural objects that were unlawfully taken out of the country and which have to be returned in the future. Those conscious of these problems are discussing how to combat corruption in this area and how to achieve high standards of security.
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August 12, 2008

Safeguarding Nigeria’s treasures

Posted at 12:37 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Items such as the Benin Bronzes were removed from Nigeria in dubious circumstances during the colonial period. In some cases though, work needs to be done to secure the remaining artefacts within the country rather than losing focus on them whilst those outside the country are the issue.

This does not of course take into account that there is no moral argument for their retention by an appointed party without any attempts to enter into dialogue with the rightful owners.


Nigeria: Safe-Guarding Our Treasures
Daily Trust (Abuja)
12 August 2008

The original Benin bronze-head, the exquisite symbol of the creative ingenuity of the Bini, Nigerian and indeed African people still lies in some British museum where it is being kept, after having been stolen by the British colonialists.

Sporadic efforts at reclaiming it a few years ago became a court case and the British Court ruled that the bronze head may have originated from Nigeria but it is now a priceless world cultural heritage and therefore can be kept by any country, particularly when the country holding it would do a better job at its safe-keeping.
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