According to The Telegraph, the Restitution Study Group, a human rights organization in the United States, has urged against returning Benin Bronzes to Nigeria since doing so would help “the ancestors of African slave dealers.”
The artifacts were transported from the Kingdom of Benin in what is now Nigeria in 1897 and are now on display in museums throughout the United Kingdom.
With approval from the Charity Commission, the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge plan to restore hundreds of the artifacts to Nigeria.
The Restitution Study Group, however, forewarned the commission in a letter that the return of the artifacts would benefit the Kingdom of Benin. They said that returning these artifacts will unfairly enrich the Kingdom of Benin through Nigeria.
Simply because they are black, black people do not favor the descendants of slave traders. Nigeria and the Kingdom of Benin have never expressed regret for holding our forefathers as slaves. The organization also encouraged the commission to ignore the Horniman Museum and Gardens’ request for the return of 72 Benin Bronzes that were in its care.
Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, the group’s leader, believes that rather than being returned to the descendants of slave traders, the artifacts should stay in Western museums to allow descendants of slaves to learn about the slave trade.
The descendants of the slaves who paid for them with their life, not the descendants of the slave traders, she said, “We want France, UK, USA, and other museums to know they should keep the Benin Bronzes for the real victims.”