Germany has returned multiple historic sculptures to Nigeria after they were stolen more than a century ago, According to a report from the Guardian on Tuesday.
The sculptures, widely referred to as the Benin bronzes, were the subject of a joint declaration between the two governments earlier this year. That agreement established plans to begin transferring the pieces back to Nigeria following their initial seizure by British forces in 1897.
More than 20 sculptures were returned this week, according to the publication, with Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Nigeria’s Culture Minister Lai Mohammed appearing together alongside other officials during a return ceremony. Notably, many stolen Benin bronzes are still housed in the British Museum.
“We are taking a long overdue step,” Baerbock acknowledged in a statement shared earlier this week. “It will not heal all the wounds of the past. But together with the Länder, cities and museums we are showing that Germany is taking seriously its efforts to address its dark colonial history.”
The pieces returned as part of Baerbock’s visit are the first of what the government says are five total collections from the country. “By addressing colonial injustice, we are opening a new chapter of intensified cooperation with Nigeria,” Baerbock said over the weekend.