Statement by a spokesperson for the Federal Foreign Office on talks of a German delegation in Nigeria:
The Federal Foreign Office’s Director General for International Cultural Policy, Andreas Görgen, together with Professor Barbara Plankensteiner from the MARKK Museum in Hamburg and Professor Hermann Parzinger from the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz held talks in Nigeria from May, 17-21 on the next steps regarding the future of the Benin Bronzes.
The exchange follows the decisions taken at a high-level meeting on April 29th chaired by Minister of State for Culture and the Media, Monika Grütters. The aim of the exchange with Nigeria is to advance a common understanding with stakeholders in Nigeria and to strengthen cooperation in the museum sector as a whole.
Interlocutors in Nigeria included representatives of the federal government, the Oba (King) of Benin, the governor of the federal state of Edo, as well as representatives of the West African regional organization ECOWAS, of the civil society and the cultural sector. The decisions of April 29 were appreciated by all Nigerian interlocutors: The Nigerian Minister for Information and Culture Lai Mohammed underlined in particular the comprehensive nature of the German approach, which includes the joint training of museum specialists, archaeological cooperation and the development of infrastructure.
The talks are set to continue in July in the context of the presentation of the plans for the Edo State Museum of West African Art EMOWAA in Germany.
On April 29, a high-level virtual meeting took place at the invitation of Minister of State Monika Grütters including the federal government, the federal states, museums and institutions; at this meeting directors of the German museums of the Benin Dialog Group and the responsible ministers of culture as well as the mayor of Cologne expressed their general willingness for substantial returns of Benin Bronzes. At the meeting an agreement was reached to aim for returns in the course of 2022. This corresponds to plans on the Nigerian side to complete the first buildings for the Edo State Museum of West African Art EMOWAA.
Interlocutors on the Nigerian side from May, 17-21 included the Minister for Information and Culture, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Oba (King) of Benin and representatives of his Royal Court, the Director General of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), the Director of the civil society initiative “Legacy Restoration Trust ”(LRT), the governor of the Nigerian state of Edo, as well as the head of the ECOWAS commission for culture, education and science and representatives from civil society and culture in Nigeria. The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Berlin, Yussuf Tuggar, accompanied the delegation.