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Newcastle Museum to return looted Benin Bronze Stave to Nigeria

Newcastle Museum is set to return a Bronze in a collection that was looted from the Benin kingdom by the British military in 1897. The move follows the growing call for reparation of looted artefacts across the world.

The museum stated that they were making the return as they are following the footsteps of other institutions across the world who earlier repatriated looted treasures in their possession.

The item involve is a Bronze stave which has a peculiar bird finial that is used as a musical instrument at ceremonies.

According to reports, the bronze stave was taken during the era of expedition where the great palace of the Oba of Benin was looted as well as the destruction of the ancient city of Benin.

During that period, about 4,500 plaques, bronzes, statues and objects made of brass alloy were looted by the British colonialists. These loots were later auctioned in order to recover the costs of expedition.

Vee Pollock According, dean of culture and the creative arts at Newcastle University, said “there is no real question for us that the right thing to do was to offer its return.”

“We were able to trace the provenance, which categorically let us know that it was part of the punitive expedition and in circumstances that I doubt any would condone”.

Keith Merrin who is the director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, also said, “repatriation can be a powerful cultural, spiritual and symbolic act which recognizes the wrongs of the past and restores some sense of justice.”

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