…..says country ‘profited from slavery’
The Benin Bronzes must not be returned to Nigeria because the African nation profited from slavery, a US civil rights group has warned the Charity Commission.
The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have decided to repatriate hundreds of artworks taken from the Kingdom of Benin – now in modern-day Nigeria – by British forces in 1897, a decision which must be signed off by the Charity Commission.
But African-American campaigners have demanded the regulator refuse permission because it would benefit @ the descendants of African slave traders”.
The New York-based Restitution Study Group, which runs legal campaigns to secure reparations for the descendants of slaves, has written to the Charity Commission to request that it keeps the Benin Bronzes in UK museums.
The letter states: “We ask that you reject any request to transfer them to Nigeria.
“The Kingdom of Benin, through Nigeria, would be unjustly enriched by repatriation of these relics.
“Black people do not support slave trader heirs just because they are black. Nigeria and the Kingdom of Benin have never apologised for enslaving our ancestors.
“We ask that you not approve the transfer of these relics.”
The Kingdom of Benin grew wealthy by capturing men, women and children and selling them as slaves to European and American buyers. Many of the thousands of Benin Bronzes – artworks which decorated the kingdom’s royal palace – were made from melted-down currency earned from the trade in African slaves.
Nigeria, the successor to the Kingdom of Benin, has pushed for their repatriation with a campaign which has led to Oxford, Cambridge, and the Horniman Museum in London agreeing to return the artworks in their collections. As charities, these decisions must be approved by the Charity Commission.