Cultural heritage looting and trafficking in Nigeria

ARUA, Godwin Nwachukwu, EBISI, Ebere Maryann, UKWUABA, Helen O., EZEANUNA, Ginika, NWEBIEM, Chinenye Patience, EZE, Onyebuchi C. and OGBO, Edwin Ifeanyi (2019) Cultural heritage looting and trafficking in Nigeria. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2019 - Athens, Greece - Libraries: dialogue for change in Session 189 - Rare Books and Special Collections.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Cultural heritage looting and trafficking in Nigeria

Nigeria is a colourful combination of culture and landscapes, a place that fully embraces it’s African heritage and celebrates its diversity. Heritages are significant endowment emanating from man and nature, passed down from one generation to another through conscious preservation and conservation. The cultural heritage of a people is the memory of its living culture which is expressed in different forms, both tangible and intangible. The case of plunder, theft, illicit trafficking and destruction of cultural heritage in developing countries like Nigeria continues unabated, despite many attempts and calls, both locally and internationally, for the need to address the issues. The cultural heritage has been ripped away for sale abroad or destroyed at home due to greed, ignorance, religious beliefs, internal conflicts or neglect. Looted antiquities move from poor nations where they are found to rich developed nations where buyers are. Looting and trafficking of antiquity can destroy the archaeological context in which the objects are found, diminishing our capacity to correct knowledge about past civilizations and also harm the objects themselves deliberately such as when objects are cut or broken into pieces for ease of transport. The state of most cultural heritage in Nigeria may be said to be endangered. The preservation of cultural heritage is an essential aspect of human life and its promotion and preservation an aspect of a nation. To value the cultural heritage and to care for it as a treasure handed to us by our ancestors, it is our duty to transmit it wholly to our children. We must pursue standard-setting and design instruments like the convention for the protection of the world cultural and natural heritage. This paper explores the challenges, problems and prospects of preserving Nigeria’s cultural heritage and proffer strategies to address illicit trafficking and looting of our cultural heritage.

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