News: Mexico joins list of countries returning artefacts to Africa


Mexico joined the list of countries returning ancient sculptures to Africa, as government delivered to Nigeria an ancient bronze sculpture seized by customs agents at its city airport as its buyer tried to bring it into the country.

According, the sculpture, from the 6th century south-western Yoruba city of Ile-Ife, shows a man wearing woven pants and a hat, sitting with his legs crossed and holding an instrument.

“Specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History determined that it was a piece of Yoruba origin,” Diego Prieto, head of the agency, told a press conference.

“It was also determined that it had been illegally exported,” the Mexican foreign ministry said.

Nigerian Ambassador Aminu Iyawa acknowledged the work of the Mexican authorities in recovering the sculpture.

According to the Government of Mexico official website, the customs authorities of the International Airport of Mexico City detected it when its buyer tried to introduce it to the country.

Last year, a bronze cockerel at Cambridge University that had been looted in a British raid on what is now Nigeria will be repatriated.
According to, the Benin bronze, known as an “okukor”, was bequeathed to Jesus College in 1930 by a former British Army officer.

In 2016 it was removed from display and the Legacy of Slavery Working Party (LSWP) has recommended it be returned.

Also, eight Nigerian artefacts that were probably stolen decades ago and illegally sent to the United States were returned to the West African country by the Museum of Fine Arts.

The decision to return the artworks, including a 2,000-year-old terra-cotta head, was the culmination of an 18-month pursuit through dusty records and old gallery brochures, untangling an art-world mystery that spanned several continents

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