Barrister Hannatu Musawa is appointed Nigeria’s culture minister

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Hannatu Musawa, a Nigerian barrister and human rights activist who has worked as a solicitor in Britain, has been appointed minister of art, culture and the creative economy in President Bola Tinubu’s new 45-member cabinet.

Musawa holds a law degree from the University of Buckingham in the UK and has postgraduate degrees from the universities of Cardiff and Aberdeen. She also founded her own law firm in Nigeria, Hanney Musawa & Associates, according to her LinkedIn profile. Nigerian press reported that the new ministers are to be sworn in on 21 August. Musawa succeeds Layiwola Mohammed, the culture minister since 2015.

Her legal background may prove helpful to Musawa in negotiating the return of Benin bronzes from Europe and the US and plans for the construction of new museums in Nigeria. She also writes a weekly newspaper column that she says “is a forum she uses to speak out, without fear or favour, on behalf of Nigerians who have no voice.”

Musawa grew up in the state of Katsina as one of 12 children. In a lengthy tribute to her father, who died earlier this year, she wrote of his journey from rural poverty and a job selling kola nuts to the BBC African service, Cambridge University, the Nigerian foreign service and a leading role in Nigerian politics and thanked him for “teaching me about equality and the importance of accepting those who may not be like me or as privileged as me.”

Tinubu, who took office in May, also appointed Nigeria’s ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, as foreign minister. Tuggar negotiated with the German government on the restitution from German museums of more than 1,100 Benin bronzes whose ownership was transferred to Nigeria last year.

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