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Looted bronze busts given to archbishop to be returned to Benin

Two Benin bronzes given to the Church of England more than 40 years ago are to be returned to Nigeria.

The repatriation comes as the row continues about Britain’s colonial past.

Benin was attacked by British soldiers in 1897 and more than 5,000 works of art and treasures were looted.

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A Lambeth Palace spokeswoman said:

“We have recently been contacted by the Digital Benin project at the MARKK (Hamburg) who enquired about our collection of gifts at Lambeth Palace and if we had received any Benin kingdom objects as gifts over the years.

“In response, we have confirmed to the Digital Benin project that we have two bronze busts, given to us by the Benin kingdom in 1982.

“These were gifted to Archbishop Robert Runcie by His Excellency Chief (Prof.) Ambrose F. Alli and the University of Nigeria, Nuskka.

“We have offered for the two busts to be included in the Digital Benin project and eventually, returned to our friends in Edo, Nigeria where they may remain.

“We are currently in discussions with the EMOWAA, via the Legacy Restoration Trust, to arrange this.”

The bronzes are likely to end up at the planned Edo Museum of West African Art (EMOWAA) which is being built in Benin City.

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