Mexico returns stolen bronze sculpture to Nigeria.


The Mexican government on Tuesday handed over an ancient bronze sculpture of Yoruba origin to Nigeria. The artefact was seized at the Mexico City airport after custom officers uncovered an attempt to smuggle it into the country. According to the head of specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History Diego Prieto, the sculpture of a man wearing woven pants and a hat, sitting with his legs crossed and holding an in an instrument originates from southwestern Yoruba city of Ile-Ife as far back as the 6th century.

A Call For Repatriation of African art.

Mexico’s Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs Julián Ventura Valero says, “We oppose the illegal commercialisation of archaeological pieces, an important cause of the impoverishment of the cultural heritage of the nations of origin, since it undermines the integrity of cultures and, therefore, of humanity”. The Nigerian Ambassador to Mexico Aminu Iyawa also acknowledged the work of the Mexican authorities in recovering the sculpture at the handover briefing. Although authorities couldn’t identify how the relic was initially obtained, this development comes at a time when African governments are calling for the repatriation of thousands of stolen art pieces during the colonial era.

Richard Ogundiya

Journalist & Techpreneur. Africa, communications and data.

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