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BBC historian says British Museum should have a ‘Supermarket Sweep’

The British Museum should have a ‘Supermarket Sweep’ where countries have two minutes to take back their artifacts, a BBC historian has suggested.

David Olusoga said there was a ‘moral imperative’ for relics to be returned and that it could help our relationship with the Commonwealth after Brexit.

Born in Nigeria, he said he felt strongly that the Benin Bronzes should be given back to the country of his heritage after they were seized in ‘violent raids’ in the late 19th century.

The BBC Civilisations presenter, who also called for the Elgin Marbles to be given back to Greece, said: ‘It’s just such a stark case of theft.’

The British Museum should have a ‘Supermarket Sweep’ where countries have two minutes to take back their artifacts, a BBC historian has suggested. David Olusoga (above) said there was a ‘moral imperative’ for relics to be returned and that it could help our relationship with the Commonwealth after Brexit

Born in Nigeria, Mr Olusoga said he felt strongly that the Benin Bronzes (one of them, pictured) should be given back to the country of his heritage after they were seized in ¿violent raids¿ in the late 19th century

Born in Nigeria, Mr Olusoga said he felt strongly that the Benin Bronzes (one of them, pictured) should be given back to the country of his heritage after they were seized in ‘violent raids’ in the late 19th century

The museum has faced criticism for its vast collection of treasures taken over centuries of exploring.

For years, debate has raged between the UK and Greece about whether the Parthenon Marbles, taken by Lord Elgin during the stripping of the Acropolis in 1801, should be returned.

Speaking at the Hay Festival, Mr Olusoga said: ‘A friend of mine, a TV producer, once came up with a brilliant solution: he said we should have a special version of Supermarket Sweep where every country is given a huge shopping trolley and two minutes in the British Museum. Maybe he’s right, maybe that’s the way forward.’

He said it could even help Britain’s trade and relations moving forward after Brexit, adding: ‘If our relationship with the Commonwealth after Brexit is going to be more important, remembering they remember what happened, and they remember the things that were taken – and there are real senses of loss in those countries – it’s beneficial to us as a nation to listen to those appeals.’

The BBC Civilisations presenter, who also called for the Elgin Marbles (one of them, above) to be given back to Greece, said: ¿It¿s just such a stark case of theft¿

The BBC Civilisations presenter, who also called for the Elgin Marbles (one of them, above) to be given back to Greece, said: ‘It’s just such a stark case of theft’

The historian and broadcaster, who arrived in the UK as a young boy, was particularly invested in the return of the Benin Bronzes.

They decorated the royal palace of the kingdom of Benin, now southern Nigeria, until most were seized during a British military expedition in 1897.

Some 200 bronzes were given to the museum, while the rest were scattered across Europe.

Mr Olusoga said: ‘I think it’s a very, very clear case of appropriation and theft. The palace was destroyed, they were taken and then sold to pay for the cost of the military adventure.

‘Everyone was open about this – steal this stuff, send it to pay for the cost of the bullets. It’s just such a stark case of theft. 

‘The idea that your national treasure would be in the museum of another country is something that as British people we would find absolutely impossible to get our heads around, but that’s what Nigerians have to think about.’



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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