What’s At Stake:
African media applaud the effort of a Nigerian billionaire who is giving back to the homeland, Tigray conflict continues to grab the headlines as Eritrea begins a peace effort by withdrawing its troops from Ethiopia, and pressure mounts on international institutions to return looted African artifacts where they belong.
Nigerian Billionaire Pays It Forward With A $100 Million Yearly Fund for Africa
In a press statement issued on March 23, Nigerian businessman and philanthropist Abdul Samad Rabiu announced the launch of a $100 million yearly fund for Africa.
According to the statement, the fund, intended to boost the continent’s development, will be directed towards “education, health and social development sectors, starting with infrastructure and capacity development in these areas and supporting the efforts of various governments in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.”
The grant named the Abdul Samad Rabiu (ASR) Initiative, will launch this year and offer $50 million to Nigeria and $50 million will go towards the rest of the African continent.
For accountability, the initiative will present annual reports detailing all activities overseen by a board of trustees.
This initiative is applauded by African media, particularly Nigerian, while mentions from non-African media are rare. Meanwhile, news about the initiative are buried in search engines and one would have to focus on African media only to be able to find out about the ASR initiative.
Eritrea Makes Peace With Troop Withdrawal From Tigray in Ethiopia
Ethiopian army soldiers patrol the streets of Mekelle, in the Tigray region, March 7, 2021, after the city was captured with an operation against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on March 26 that the nation of Eritrea has agreed to withdraw its forces from the Tigray region. In his statement, Abiy suggested that the Eritrean troops had no authorization to join the war.
Since November 2020, news outlets over the world have headlined the Tigray war. While many of them alleged Eritrea’s involvement in the war, both Ethiopian and Eritrean officials denied these allegations.
The media is quick to point out the paradox of Ethiopian armed forces working with Eritrean troops since the two nations had only recently come to a peace agreement for a war that lasted nearly two decades.
Since the Tigray war started, thousands of people have died, with hundreds of thousands forced to flee their homes. Serious war crimes are suspected. The prime minister’s announcement came after growing pressure from international governments.
While there is no guarantee that Eritrea’s departure is a step towards the end of the war, the act seems to bring hope to many as Eritrean troops were blamed for the worst war crimes that took place in the Tigray Region.
Hundreds of Looted Artifacts Set to be Returned to Nigeria
On Monday, March 22, Hartmut Dorgerloh, the director of the Humboldt Forum in Germany, announced plans to return the Berlin Bronzes to Nigeria as soon as the fall. The Humboldt Forum, a new museum of non-European art was set to display half of the 440 Bronzes held at the Ethnological Museum. Dorgerloh stated that the exhibit would instead show replicas of the bronzes or leave symbolic empty spaces.
Following Germany’s lead is the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, which announced it would also return a Benin Bronze to Nigeria.
The Benin Bronzes are a collection of more than a thousand metal plaques and sculptures that were used to decorate the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin, now known as Nigeria. The artifacts, over 600 years old, were taken by British soldiers in 1897 on a punitive raid on Benin City, now being called colonial loot. Many of the artifacts are scattered across museums in Europe and North America.
News outlets such as CNN, BBC News, The Guardian, and many more have reported on the issue, putting more pressure on the roughly 160 institutions worldwide that hold Benin’s treasures, to start speaking about their plans of returning them to where they belong.