Is It Time to Repatriate Africa’s Looted Art?
On the eve of Feb. 9, 1897, the ancient Kingdom of Benin, now part of modern-day Nigeria, stood as a marker for the achievement of Black civilizations. Archaeologists describe Benin City’s earthworks as the world’s largest built before the mechanical age, and its city walls were estimated to have been “four times longer than the Great Wall of China.” But the next day, the British military entered the city to overthrow Benin’s king by force. By Feb. 18, soldiers had burned Benin City to the ground. After Benin’s fall, the British donned blackface and faux native dress to celebrate.