Returning Africa’s stolen past
The auction in Paris last week of two Nigerian artefacts has revived the debate about the return of African artworks
The 1967-1970 Biafran war was a brutal secessionist conflict in Nigeria in which up to 3-million people starved to death. During that period, a large number of sacred objects were looted from the country, and sold on to European collectors. Among them were two wooden sculptures.
The male and female figurines of Igbo deities, measuring 1.5m, are central to a fresh controversy around the restoration of African artefacts after British auction house Christie’s put them under the hammer in Paris last Monday. They fetched €212,500 — well below the expected €250,000-€350,000.