Kwame Opoku


Contempt for Africans is still so strong in Germany that the government sees no point in returning to Namibia the human remains of the massacred Herero and Nama peoples. Further, Germany is unwilling to offer an apology and compensation

It is difficult to understand why artefacts newly recovered in Nigeria should be exhibited first in Germany and not in the country where they were discovered


Nigeria has been elected to a key international committee for prohibiting the illicit transfer cultural property. But going by past experience, it remains to be seen whether the nation will use the opportunity to demand the return of looted priceless Benin artworks to their rightful owners


Many museums in Europe and America are facing a financial crisis and from recent reports, it would not be unreasonable to assume that they may be tempted to sell, loan, transfer, or exchange African artefacts they are illegally holding, such as the Benin bronzes without anybody taking much notice


This latest development is consistent with a trend in the West to justify continued detention in Western museums of artefacts from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The artefacts, mostly acquired through violence, should have been returned to former colonies at independence


The Benin Plan of Action is no plan of action and does not deal with restitution of the looted Benin bronzes. After 50 years Africans must demand a concrete time frame within which the artefacts are to be returned as a condition for participating in future meetings


Nigeria’s perplexing ‘quiet diplomacy’ in the pursuit of precious pieces of art looted by the colonialists over a century ago has not resulted in the return of the artefacts. It is time to make loud, firm and vigorous demands.


The people of Benin have tried for years to have their precious works of art returned to no avail. Now the artifacts have a new ‘owner’ in America.


The recent damage to a Nok sculpture raises important questions about the legality and morality of removing African artefacts from their origins and transporting them to the West.


Refuting in detail the arguments proffered by Germany on the questions of apology and compensation for the genocide of the Herero and the Nama, Dr Kwame Opoku notes that the Namibia-Germany case is being keenly observed by other African peoples and states with unresolved issues relating to the colonial era.