We watched the German Parliament debates today with great interest. MP Awet Tesfaiesus quoted Julius Nyrere to make an analogy between the taking of the Benin bronzes in 1897 and a person who visits your home and steals a jacket. She suggests they could never have proper ownership of your jacket, but: “If the jacket had the blood of the visitor’s ancestor on it, or was made with their uncompensated slave labor, then the visitor might have the moral or legal right to own it and the host might not have a right to get it back,” says Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, Executive Director of the Restitution Study Group, the New York non-profit representing DNA Descendants of people enslaved by the Benin kingdom in exchange for manilla currency melted and recast into the 16th to 19th century Benin bronzes.

The so-called progressive MPs accuse everyone of being neo-colonialists who oppose the repatriation of the Benin bronzes. They seem to be unaware of the fact that DNA descendants of Benin kingdom captives who were sold into transatlantic enslavement in exchange for the metal to make most of relics also oppose the repatriation of the slave trade bronzes. We are not neo-colonialists. We want to be acknowledged as co-owners of the relics and to maintain access to our cultural property.

“Progressive” MPs are engaged in elitism and are advocating for Nigerian slave trader heirs and an oil rich nation at the expense of DNA descendants — people whom they deem irrelevant. 

Germany has not yet apologized for its collaboration with the Benin kingdom in the transatlantic enslavement of Benin kingdom women for 150 years and the looting and theft of villages and people from neighboring ethnic groups for 300 years. 

The German Mining Museum reported on April 5, 2023, that for 3 centuries Germany mined the metal for manillas paid to the Benin kingdom by Westen royalty and other slave traders in exchange for stolen humans. Then Benin kingdom artisans melted that metal to make the bronzes. None of this history was mentioned by progressive MPs during the debates today. 

Germany has a chance to correct the record and lead the world on this issue by telling the truth and doing the right thing. 

Part 2 of this debate is next week. We want to hear the MPs publicly acknowledge the slave trade origin of the Benin bronzes and publicly acknowledge DNA Descendants’ claims of co-ownership of the relics. 

We pray that Germany takes this opportunity to lead the world on this issue and bring all the proper beneficiaries of these relics together — DNA Descendants, Benin kingdom heirs and Nigeria — to finalize an agreement that will respect all of our hardships and history, and foster healing. The Benin kingdom royals and Germany do not want to end up on the wrong side of history AGAIN. There are enough bronzes to serve justice for all of us.



Deadria Farmer-Paellmann, J.D., M.A.
Executive Director
Restitution Study Group

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