Sun, 14 Mar 2021 Feature Article

Will Provenance Research Delay Restitution Of Looted African Artefacts?

Gold mask, 20 cm in height, weighing 1.36 kg of pure gold, seized by the British from Kumasi, Ghana, in 1874 and now in the Wallace Collection, London, United Kingdom.Gold mask, 20 cm in height, weighing 1.36 kg of pure gold, seized by the British from Kumasi, Ghana, in 1874 and now in the Wallace Collection, London, United Kingdom.

“The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.” Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause. (1)

There have been in recent months a lot of references to provenance research whenever there is talk of restitution of looted African artefacts that are in Western museums and institutions.(2) The impression often arises as if provenance research and restitution were inextricably linked. Some supporters of provenance research make it clear that the two are not necessarily linked.(3)

Provenance research is presented as a possible way of obtaining knowledge and information about the looted artefacts and how they came to be in Western museums and institutions.(4) However, until fairly recently there was no mention of provenance research with regards to restitution of African artefacts. When the high priests of the ‘universal museums’, Philippe de Montebello, James Cuno, and Neil MacGregor discussed restitution and defended the right, if not the duty, of the Western museums to hold on to their ill-gotten African artefacts, they did not mention the need for provenance research.(5) Similarly, the notorious Declaration of the Importance and Value of Universal Museums (2002) by which the Western museums tried to establish for themselves immunity against possible claims by those deprived of their artefacts, did not refer to provenance research.(6) When in 2007, an International Conference was held in Vienna, within the context of the magnificent exhibition, Benin Kings and Rituals-Court Arts from Nigeria, and the issue of restitution was raised, no one, neither the Royal Family of Benin that requested restitution of their looted artefacts nor the Western museums that denied the request, adverted to provenance research.(7) The absence of any reference to provenance research by all parties is easily explained. None of the parties involved or those commenting on the issue felt any need for provenance research on the Benin artefacts concerning restitution.(8)

The present writer who started writing on restitution in 2007, does not recall having seen or heard of provenance research in connection with restitution of looted African artefacts. In those days provenance research related mainly to restitution of Nazi-looted artefacts. There was a need to find out the whereabouts of the objects, identify the owners or their successors, (if they had not all been killed by the criminal Nazis) and to return the objects to the owners. This was never an easy task.(9)

Looted African artefacts, such as the Benin objects did not pose similar problems. Everyone knew where most of the Benin bronzes were to be found, that they came from, Benin City/ Nigeria and that the rightful owner, the Oba of Benin is in Benin City and has been asking for restitution of the treasures since decades with no success from Western museums.

As demands for restitution of African artefacts became incessant and unavoidable, many NGO’s, especially those united under the name of No Humboldt 21 supported restitution of the African artefacts to be shown in the Humboldt Forum in Berlin and drew attention to the illegality of the selected objects. Bénédicte Savoy resigned from the Board of Experts of the Humboldt Forum on the same issue and more attention was paid by the German authorities to the issue of illegal acquisitions. After the Sarr- Savoy report recommended restitution of looted African artefacts in French museums, we started hearing more about the necessity for provenance research. Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Foundation for Cultural Heritage admitted that there had hitherto been no provenance research concerning the restitution of African artefacts:

Similarly, as in the case of Nazi-looted art, it must be reconstructed from the beginning. Similarly, as in Nazi-looted art, we want not only to react to restitution demands but to proactively research and thus strengthen international cooperation. Provenance research is complicated and takes time. There is no reason for me to avoid this and we do not do that in the case of Nazi-looted art.(10) It became the mantra of Hermann Parzinger that provenance research was in. DNA of the Humboldt Forum Thus until approximately 2016 or thereabouts, no one spoke much about provenance research with respect to the African artefacts in Germany and in Europe.

During the Saar-Savoy Commission, we had no detailed discussion on a need for provenance research.(11) Much of the information required by the Commission was already available in the inventories of the Musée du Quai Branly. Indeed, most persons would have been surprised if anybody suggested that there was a need for provenance research. They would have wondered what the French museums had been doing in the previous hundred years if they did not have adequate information relating to the acquisition of the looted African artefacts in their museums.

But how come that the French museums have open and detailed inventories of their acquisitions whilst the Germans do not have such records? It appears that some time around 1978, the German ethnology museums were advised not to make such inventories available to the public in order to avoid claims from the deprived owners

Havng developed a habit of not keeping open inventories of colonial acquisitions, German ethnological museums found themselves unable to provide quickly such lists and felt the need do provenance research which consists mainly of looking into their own archives and records where all the relevant information must be.. This cannot take as much time as we are made to believe. Of course if you have only one staff to do provenance research on thousands of artefacts,this will take time.

Having failed for decades to keep clear inventories, the German museums are asking for more time to do this work at the cost of postponing African restitution. The need for provenance research with respect to looted African artefacts is then a German invention, appearing in response to demands for restitution and the need to appear to be doing something with respect to restitution, especially after the Sarr-Savoy report Suddenly, there was money for provenance research of the African artefacts. Foundations and other bodies made respectable sums available for research. The German Federal Culture Foundation allocated to three museums, Ethnology Museum, Hamburg, Grassi Museum, Leipzig, and Linden Museum, Stuttgart, each 1 million Euros over a period of four years.(12) The ethnology museums that had been under heavy criticisms suddenly appeared to be very busy with research projects. Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Leipzig ethnology museums seemed to be experiencing a revival or renaissance with many discussions and projects. The ethnologists even issued a Heidelberg Statement:’

We explicitly welcome the high level of current concern for civil society in our establishments, in our work, and in questions and problems about the colonial history of our collections. Equally, we appreciate concerns about whether it is legitimate to preserve sensitive collections such as human remains, burial objects, and sacred objects, or artefacts of potentially key cultural heritage. The new public engagement points to a social development that coincides with an increasing awareness of the knowledge preserved in our museums, and the relevance of the collections for societies of origin, in which society accepts an ethical responsibility in dealing with the objects.(13)

Soon many appeared to have forgotten all the works of pioneer scholars such as Felix Luschan on Benin artefacts and seem to see themselves as pioneers in this matter.(14) Does anybody want us to believe that Luschan and the other ethnologists who established the reputation of German scholars for a meticulous and detailed scholarship did not carefully note the sources and circumstances of the acquisition of the many objects they received for their museums?

The question of restitution of African artefacts looted during the colonial period appeared as an examination of the German colonial system. Germans who have been mostly preoccupied with the Nazi period and Nazi restitution seemed suddenly to be confronted with the German colonial past. They were rediscovering their colonial past that they would rather forget and found that they had to deal with colonial genocides in Namibia and elsewhere.(15)

The German Association of Museums produced Guidelines for the handling of collections acquired in colonial contexts.(16) The impression created was as if African artefacts had just recently been acquired and there was an urgent need to regulate their treatment when in fact they had been lying in German museums for more than a hundred years. The Guidelines had been produced partly in answer to President Macron’s declaration at Ouagadougou on 17 November 2017 on the need to restitute African artefacts from the French museums, especially Musée du Quai Branly.(17) The Guidelines which were revised within one year of their publication were clearly not in favour of restitution and tended more to emphasize the need for provenance research which had been given a wider scope than we were hitherto used to. Provenance research, according to its proponents, was to deal with many aspects of the artefacts. The concept is so wide as to include finding out whether those who produced, for example, the Benin artefacts felt they were slaves or considered themselves as free artists.

We suspected that provenance research was being used as a pretext for delaying restitution. This suspicion was reinforced by the results of provenance research at the Hamburg Kunst und Gewerbe Museum(Arts and Crafts Museum). After research had shown that three Benin bronzes were indeed part of the loot of 1897, the pieces were not returned to the Oba of Benin but handed over to the Hamburg Völkerkunde Museum that has already 196 of the looted Benin pieces. The ground advanced was that the Ethnology Museum, now Museum at Rothenbaum, could provide a better framework for displaying Benin artefacts. So, what was the point of the research? There was no need for provenance research in order to arrive at that decision. What has been done would be similar to a situation where a car thief has been apprehended and the car seized. Instead of returning the car to the original owner, one decides to hands over the vehicle to another holder of looted cars on the grounds that he has several looted cars in his car park and would be able to display better the vehicle in question.

There is no guarantee in the non-binding Guidelines that provenance research would lead to restitution if proved that the object was looted. Indeed, it is emphasized that provenance research is independent of restitution.

There seems to be a general assumption that once objects are restituted to the owners there can be no research on them and that is why Western museums advance the argument for research. But looked at objectively, this is not necessarily true. Questions of ownership and location need not prevent further research that is not related to ownership. One can always do research on artefacts that belong to Nigeria wherever the objects may be located provided they are sufficiently identified. Nigerian and other African scholars can also do provenance research on African artefacts.

The more important question is whether more provenance research is needed at all on African artefacts such as the Benin artefacts that all came from the notorious 1897 British invasion. Who needs such research, the owners in Nigeria or the illegal holders who have kept the articles for more than 100 years? The origin of many African artefacts in Western museums, such as the Benin artefacts, Asante gold objects, and Ethiopian artefacts and scripts are known. Are there any persons who are not aware of the origin of the Rosetta stone or the bust of Nefertiti? (18)

A remarkable aspect is that those Western museums that clamour for provenance research usually employ one person to do such research on thousands of looted artefacts. In World Museum, Vienna, one staff member is responsible for provenance research on 38,000 African objects. How long would she take to complete the work? The museum has recently been granted 160,000Euros by the Austrian Parliament for 2021.

One is never informed on what precise object or objects museum officials are doing provenance research. That posts entirely devoted to provenance research are rare, can be seen from the amount of talk and space used whenever such a posta is announced. Very few museum staff devote their time entirely to this type o research.

he German Maritime Museum,(Deutsches Schifffahrtsmuseum), Bremerhaven, which holds 200,000 objects has been since 2017 tracing objects looted by the Nazis and in its new research project, the focus is on objects looted in the colonial period. The head of the museum has stated that her museum has enough artefacts to keep the museum busy for the next 30 years. It does not appear that the museum has adequate staff and indeed has been sued by a lawyer for the negligence of state property leading to damages and destruction of public property.(19)

The Contact Point that was recently established by the German government to help African states and persons who may be searching for their artefacts in

German museums has only three members of staff. Considering the great number of African artefacts in German museums that may be subject of inquiries, it is clear that the number of staff is wholly inadequate and therefore would not be able to answer satisfactorily numerous inquiries and thus delay any eventual process of restitution.(20)

Though the ruling German government seems more interested in appearing to be active in restitution without effecting much, the opposition parties, Fraktion Bündnis90/Die Grünen have shown great interest and support for restitution. They pleaded for a more critical appraisal of the German colonial past and the injustice caused to colonial countries and peoples. The Left Party called for comprehensive restitution legislation with binding laws for the museums. The party suggested the reversing of burden of proof in restitution cases so that the burden of proof would be on a museum to establish its claim of ownership and in absence of such proof, the object was to be restituted to the source country. Laws were to be made obliging institutions to indicate the provenance of exhibited objects acquired in colonial contexts. Inventories were to be provided of objects acquired in colonial contexts and made available to a new central point. These and many other proposals were rejected by a majority of the coalition government of CDU/CSU and SPD.(21)

The German argument of the need for provenance research seems to have attracted museums and institutions in other countries. Even the venerable British Museum, the holder of the greatest number of looted artefacts in the world, has found it useful to use this excuse though, in its usual crafty way, not directly advancing the argument for the need for provenance research but creates the impression that it is responding to that need.

It has been reported that the great museum has appointed a curator for researching the history of its collections. A spokeswoman of the museum is accredited with saying ‘it is not the purpose of this role to examine the specific histories of contested objects’’ even though the project ‘will cover areas of the collection that include contested objects’. ‘It is ‘likely that issues such as the role of the slave trade and empire…will be relevant to some of the research undertaken’’.

Although claims are being made for artefacts such as The Parthenon Marbles and Benin Bronzes the new curator has a wider brief to examine general issues relating to past acquisitions but research on individual objects remains with curators in museum departments.(22) What then is really the function of the new curator? Would she examine contested acquisitions or not? The British Museum statement provides for both ‘no’ and ‘yes’ answers. The museum thus appears to be responding to actual pressures relating to the Parthenon Marbles, and the Benin Bronzes but does not promise that these cases will be researched by the new curator. Whatever happens eventually, the venerable museum would win. The museums seek to pacify critics and protestors without seeming to yield to their pressures. The guidelines for handling colonial artefacts in the United Kingdom which the Institute for Art and Law was to produce for the Arts Council England are not yet issued.

Switzerland which never directly had colonies in Africa has realized the need to restitute looted African artefacts and has recently started speaking of the need for provenance research instead of proceeding to restitute.(23)

Western contempt for Africans and their leaders comes out very clearly in restitution matters. So far, no serious argument has been advanced for non-restitution and the obvious delaying tactics involved in advancing arguments based on need for provenance research, after 100 years of illegal detention of artefacts as well as projects for digitalization, show how little Westerners respect our intelligence. Provenance research and digitalization of artefacts are useful per se but are being used in this context to delay restitution in so far as the financing, researchers, the tempo, and objects are all determined by the Western governments and institutions that are not in any hurry to return the looted artefacts they have kept for so long.

A recent example of disrespect is when the Nigerian ambassador to Germany, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar requested twice the return of the Benin bronzes to Nigeria and received no answer. He later learned that his request was not acceptable since it was in his own name and not in the form of a note verbal (24) Readers may recall that Zahi Hawass received a similar treatment from Germany when he requested the return of the bust of Nefertiti as the General Secretary of the Egyptian Office of Antiquities. He was told the request must come from a minister. When Hawass become a minister and sent a request, he was informed the request must come from the President of Egypt.(25)

Despite UN/UNESCO resolutions starting from 1973 and renewed almost every second year, urging holders of looted colonial artefacts to return them to their countries of origins, Western States and their museums have stubbornly refused to return any artefacts, knowing fully that this refusal violates the right of self-determination of peoples as already stated in the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples,14 December 1964, adopted without dissenting vote.(26) Europeans have advanced spurious arguments against restitution which they know are not valid and had been already addressed by this declaration that excludes such arguments in its articles 2 and 3:

2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social, and cultural development.

3. Inadequacy of political, economic, social or educational preparedness should never serve as a pretext for delaying independence.

If inadequacies of colonial countries cannot be advanced as excuse for not granting independence, it follows logically that inadequacies of colonial powers can also not be advanced for not returning artefacts on granting independence. Thus, arguments based on lack of provenance research, lack of funds, lack of personnel for such work and lack of time to complete such research are all invalid.

One favourite argument of Europeans has been that the African countries have not requested the return of artefacts, cheerfully ignoring the fact that the ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums stipulates in its Paragraph 6.2,under the heading Return of Cultural Property that Museums should be prepared to initiate dialogue for the return of cultural property to a country or people of origin.

By refusing to make any concrete restitution, the German government and all European States, must realize that they are encouraging those persons, not only Africans or members of the African diaspora, who believe we must think of other ways of securing the return of our artefacts other than interminable talks and appeals to Europeans which have so far, for more than a hundred years, not yielded any restitutions.(27)

From the many discussions and articles about restitution of looted African artefacts in the last decades and recent times, one cannot avoid the conclusion that not much has been achieved.

French President Macron must be congratulated for his famous Declaration at Ouagadougou on 28 November 2017 for asserting that African artefacts must be displayed not only in Paris but also in Dakar, Lagos, and Cotonou. The first European statesman to accept the notion of restitution of African artefacts. The Sarr-Savoy report he commissioned shook other European States and set in motion activities that still continue in European States. But France has not so far restituted any African artefacts. The French legislator approved the restitution of 27 artefacts to Republic of Benin and one sword to Senegal. The French rule against alienation of objects in State domain was not modified for any general exceptions and so each object must be specifically exempted. Considering the 75,000 African objects in Musée du Quai Branly alone, this is little but theoretically this approval signifies an advancement on the French position sine centuries.

Despite a flurry of initiatives and activities, Germany has not advanced much towards restitution but on the contrary, one may experience a step backwards with defences based on provenance research. Incidentally, someone should inform the Germans that returning a Portuguese stone cross(Padrão) looted from Namibia and returning Witbooi’s bible stolen by German soldiers, encouraging acts, do not constitute what we mean by restitution of looted African artefacts. They should not have stolen them in the first place and should not act as if they are the most generous and respectful of religions.

The Dutch have made great advances in equipping themselves with legislation that should make restitution easier, but they have also embarked on projects of provenance research which could be used to delay restitution. Could they restitute in absence of completed provenance research? Would the Dutch who are also in the Benin Dialogue Group be willing to restitute any of the 196 Benin artefacts they hold despite the group’s offer of only loans, without British and Germans agreement? Would the Dutch be able to resist the European family positions that often prevail in such matters? Even with the new measures, it seems the Dutch would maintain a distinction which we have previously criticised, namely, between artefacts from countries that were previously Dutch colonies, restituting unconditionally to the first group but attaching conditions to restitution to the second group.

The recent Dutch efforts appear to be the most promising, but experience teaches us not to be too hopeful or confident about European activities when it comes to dealing with restitution of looted African artefacts. We have to wait and see.

The Belgians are busy examining their brutal colonial past and do not show any particular hurry to restitute the 180,000 looted African objects in the Tervuren Museum, now rebaptised as Africa Museum. A report is expected on 1October 2021.

Nobody expected the British to be in a hurry to restitute African artefacts such as the Benin treasures they looted in 1897 in a military invention. The British Museum continues to be a citadel with most looted artefacts in the world and has at most offered to consider loans of artefacts to the original owners.

With recent attempts by the British Government to control the interpretation of colonial history and the warnings to cut off funds to museums and other cultural institutions that are critical, there is no doubt that Britain is not in any mood to restore African cultural artefacts. Who would have ever suspected that the British Museum harbours any anti-colonial attitude? Yet after the venerable museum removed the bust of its founder, Hans Sloane and placed in another place, showing his connections to the slave trade, the museum was criticised by the Tory Establishment.

It is abundantly clear, despite all subterfuges, that the Europeans will do anything except restitute a considerable number of African artefacts unless obliged to do so. Their position is clear: we keep what we hold at the moment, stolen or otherwise.

What about Africans, have we learnt anything from 500 years of European domination racial arrogance?

Judging by recent discussions, it is difficult to assert that, at least as far as the African elite is concerned, a new vigorous, self-assured attitude, conscious of our long historical experience with Europe, and determined to be independent of Western hegemony, has appeared on the international scene and is willing to take steps to ensure restitution of a considerable part of the looted African artefacts lying in European museums.

Europeans have been making for decades the same useless arguments to support their illegal holding of stolen African artefacts. They have even made the insulting offer of loans of our looted artefacts to the owners. Have Africans come out and strongly condemned such an insult?

Racism is at the at the basis of slavery, colonialism, robbery of our resources, including artefacts. However, many Africans, especially the elite, do not appear to be willing to raise such a basic issue. They show great diffidence in their relations with Westerners and do not want to touch on any matter that might embarrass Europeans. Most of the arguments presented by Westerners for detention of colonial artefacts are based on assumptions of inherent white supremacy which they expect Africans to accept without discussion.

Instead of coordinating our efforts in the struggle to recover our looted artefacts, many seem to believe it is best to go it alone. We have not heard that Ethiopia and Nigeria are consulting each other on such matters.

The fathers of African Independence would be shocked to learn that 60 years after independence we are still discussing with some Europeans what they should have handed over at the latest at the time of Independence.

What about the other States where looted African artefacts are to be found such as Denmark, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Spain, and Sweden,? Are they busy with provenance research?

Whatever may be the assessment of the achievements of the last decades in the quest for the return of looted African artefacts, it is clear that the subject will not disappear no matter what subterfuges are employed such as the need for provenance research or need for more museums.

‘’African art, like any great art, some would say, in any case more than any other, and for a long time if not always, is first of all in man, in the emotion of man transmitted to objects by man and his society.

This is the reason why one cannot separate the problem of the fate of African art from the fate of the African man, that is to say the fate of Africa itself.”

Aimé Césaire, Discours sur l’art africain,1966. (28)

Kwame Opoku.


1.“Die Rückgabe jener Kulturschätze, die unsere Museen und Sammlungen direkt oder indirekt dem Kolonialsystemverdanken und die jetzt zurückverlangt werden, sollte ebenfalls nicht mit billigen Argumenten und Tricks hinausgezögert werden.” –

Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause, p.185, C. Bertelsmann, Munich, 1984.


3. K. Opoku, Brief comments on German guidelines on handling objects acquired in colonial contexts.

K. Opoku, Revised Guidelines on Colonial Collections: Germany Not Advanced with Restitution of Looted African Artefacts.

4. K. Opoku, Humboldt Forum and Selective Amnesia: Research Instead of Restitution of African Artefact

5. K. Opoku, Whose ‘universal museum’? Comments on James Cuno’s Whose Culture ?

Opoku on the Unfulfilled Promise of the Next Cuno Book from Princeton

Neil MacGregor, The British Museum: A Museum of the World for the World

K .Opoku, ’Does the Demand for the Restitution of Stolen African Cultural Objects Constitute an Obstacle to the Dissemination of Knowledge about African Arts? Comments on a Letter from Philippe de Montebello, Director, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.’

6. K. Opoku, ‘Defence of Universal Museums’ through Omissions and Irrelevancies’

K. Opoku, ‘Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums: Singular Failure of an Arrogant Imperialist Project’

K. Opoku, Is the declaration on the importance of Universal Museums still valid?

7. K. Opoku, Benin exhibition in Vienna - The debate continues.

8. Barbara Plankensteiner (ed)Benin Kings and Ritual-Court Arts from Nigeria, Snoeck, 2007. Among the Benin specialists present at the excellent symposium were, in addition to the curator of the exhibition, Barbara Plankensteiner, then Deputy Director of the Völkerkundemuseum Vienna, Peju Layiwola, University of Lagos, and Chika Okeke-Agulu, Princeton University, Patrick Darling, Bournemouth University, Benson Osarhieme Osadolor, University of Benin, Stefan Eisenhofer, Staatliche Museum fur Völkerkunde, München, Kathy Curnow, Philadelphia, Flora Edouwaye Kaplan, New York University, Barbara Blackmun, Las Mesa College San Diego, California, Chief K. Osarhenhen Inneh, Benin City, Joseph Nevadomsky, Fullerton University, California and Thomas Fillitz, University of Vienna.

9. K .Opoku, ‘Vienna Museum Director calls for time limitation on Nazi loot claims’

K. Opoku, The Strange and Amazing Thoughts of Sir Norman Rosenthal On Ending Restitution of Nazi Looted Art (

K. Opoku, Response to Jonathan Jones: “Should all looted art be returned?

Marc Masurovsky, ‘A Comparative Look at Nazi Plundered Art, Looted Antiquities, and Stolen Indigenous Objects.

10. Hermann Parzinger: „Es muss neue Erzählungen geben“

11. Felwine Sarr. Bénédicte Savoy, The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage. Toward a New Relational Ethics


Museen fordern mehr Geld für Provenienzforschung |

On the contentious issue of ethnographic objects – 1.2 million euro for provenance research in northern Germany | VolkswagenStiftung

» Germany Offers $2.17 Million for Ethnographic Provenance Research (


14. K. Opoku, ‘Humboldt Forum and Selective Amnesia: Research Instead of Restitution of African Artefacts’

15. K. Opoku, ‘Germany Still Refuses to Apologise for Genocide of Herero and Nama in Namibia’.


17. K. Opoku, Macron Promises to Return African Artefacts in French Museums: A new era in African-European Relationships or a Mirage?

French President Emmanuel Macron, on 28 November 2017 at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso:“…I cannot accept that a large part of cultural heritage of several African countries is in France. There are historical explanations for that, but no valid justifications that are durable and unconditional. African heritage cannot only be in private collections and European museums. African heritage must be highlighted in Paris, but also in Dakar, in Lagos, in Cotonou. This will be one of my priorities. I want conditions to be met within the next five years for the temporary or permanent restitution of African heritage to Africa.

18. K. Opoku,’ Where the Rosetta Stone Belongs May Not Be Set in Stone but Is Stated in Documents

K. Opoku ‘Restitution and recent upheavals in Egypt’.

K. Opoku, Did Egyptians Never Ask for the Restitution of Nefertiti?

19. Museumsprojekt zur Provenienzforschung: Nadeln im Heuhaufen“!5744829/!5638855/

20. Tagesspiegel, Wenig Hoffnung auf schnelle Rückgabe

21. On the debates in the German Parliament, Bundestag, on Friday, 26 February 2021 on German colonial rule, and restitution see

22. British Museum hires curator to research history of its collections, also covering contested objects such as the Parthenon Marbles.

24. Kim Willsher,‘We want our riches back’- the African activist taking treasures from Europe’s museums.

K. Opoku, ‘Dutch Are Taking Giant Steps towards Restitution of Looted Artefacts,’

25. K. Opoku, ‘How often Will Germany Insult Nigeria when Demands Are Made for Restitution of Looted Artefacts?’

26. K. Opoku, Nefertiti in Absurdity: How often must Egyptians ask Germans for the return of the Egyptian Queen?


28. ‘L’art africain, comme tout grand art, me dira-t-on, en tout cas plus que tout autre, et depuis si longtemps si ce n’est depuis toujours, est d’abord dans l’homme, dans l’émotion de l’homme transmise aux choses par l’homme et sa société. C’est la raison pour laquelle on ne peut séparer le problème du sort de l’art africain du problème du sort de l’homme africain, c’est-à-dire en définitive du sort de l’Afrique elle-même’. Aimé Césaire, Discours sur l’art africain, Dakar,1966

Queen-mother Idia, Benin/Nigeria, now in Humboldt Forum, Berlin, Germany.

King’s throne, mandu yenu, Bamum, Cameroon, now in Humboldt Forum, Berlin, Germany.

Gold mask, 20 cm in height, weighing 1.36 kg of pure gold, seized by the British from Kumasi, Ghana, in 1874 and now in the Wallace Collection, London, United Kingdom.

Relief panel with a battle scene, Benin, Nigeria, one of the three Benin artefacts transferred recently to Museum at Rothenbaum from Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, after provenance research showed they were looted.

Crown of Tewodros II, Ethiopia, now at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom. Looted during the invasion of Magdala in 1868 by a British Punitive Expedition army. The crown is labelled at the Victoria and Albert as the "Crown of the Archbishop Abune Selam.” With typical colonialist and imperialist arrogance, this 18-karat gold crown was described as “barbaric” but still kept by the British.

Altar group with Oba Akenzua I, Benin, Nigeria now in Humboldt Forum, Berlin, Germany.

Altar group with Oba Akenzua I, Benin, Nigeria now in Humboldt Forum, Berlin, Germany.

Nefertiti, Egypt, now in Neues Museum, Berlin, Germany.

Queen-mother Idia, Benin Nigeria, now in British Museum, London, Great Britain. Many private persons or institutions in the Western world have their own collections but have so far not been touched by the plea of Nigerians to return looted artefacts. The only case of return by a private person is that of the Briton, Dr Mark Walker, who returned to the Oba of Benin artefacts that he inherited from his great- grand-father.