From Tony Osauzo, Benin
The advocacy for the return of looted Benin artefacts during the British invasion of 1897, appears to be yielding result, with President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, Berlin, Herrmann Parzinger, saying yesterday that the Republic of Germany is happy to return the Benin bronzes looted during the punitive expedition.
Parzinger, who is also the chairmen of museums holders of Benin bronzes was among the five-man delegation to Edo State, stated this while speaking with newsmen at the Museum ground in Benin City.
Describing the visit of the delegation to Benin as historic, Parzinger said it has opened a vista of cultural relations between Germany and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I am quiet touched to see how vivid this culture is. The Benin bronze is outstanding arts. We are happy we can give Benin bronzes back to Benin and Nigeria.
“This museum is a state-of-the-art if you compare it internationally. We are happy that the objects will go back to this museum.
“So, We want your cooperation and we want to support you in capacity building, training, education. We want to learn from you about knowledge of Benin bronze. We really want to open a new chapter in our relations specially in the area of cultural cooperation”, he said.
He however, sought for the cooperation of all stakeholders in Nigeria and in Edo State for the return of the looted bronzes, assuring that the foundation will support the country in the area of capacity building, education among others.
Parzinger, also said the foundation will want to learn from the Benin kingdom about knowledge of Benin bronzes.
Earlier, Andreas Görgen, Director General of the Directorate General for Culture and Communications of the German Foreign Office and head of the delegation, said the visit to Edo State was to testify to the joint willingness of five Federal States of Germany, the Federal government of Nigeria and the five Museums holders of Benin bronzes, to proceed to the restoration of the looted artefacts to Nigeria and Benin in particular.
Commending the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the Federal Republic of Germany support in the efforts of the National Commission of Museum and Monuments, the Legacy Restoration Trust and the Royal Court of Benin to return the bronzes, Görgen explained that the efforts was geared towards building a museum in Benin City for the 21st century which will honour Benin tradition and culture of the people.