Emmanuel Macron Wants To Give Africa Its Art Back


France has agreed to return dozens of works of art to Benin more than century after they were plundered from the West African nation. President
 President Emmanuel Macron said 26 artefacts would be repatriated “without delay” after a report recommended the return of cultural objects stolen from Africa during the colonial era.

Image result for emmanuel macron benin
Emmanuel Macron and Benin’s President, Patrice Talon. Photo by Etienne Laurent/AFP/Getty Images.

The items due to be returned include statues from the Palaces of Abomey taken by the French army in 1892, which are currently in the Quai Branly museum in Paris, The Local reports. They represent just a handful of some 5,000 works requested by the government in Benin.

Image result for Quai Branly museum in Paris,
Quai Branly museum in Paris

The report, written by Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr and French historian Bénédicte Savoy, concluded that unless it could be proven that African artefacts in French museums were obtained legitimately, they should be returned to the continent permanently, not on long-term loan.

Image result for Felwine Sarr and French historian Bénédicte Savoy,
Felwine Sarr and Bénédicte Savoy

Speaking during a visit to Burkina Faso last year he said he “cannot accept that a large part of the cultural heritage of several African countries” is sitting in French museums and private collections. “There are historical explanations for this but there is no valid, lasting and unconditional justification,” he added.

Image result for emmanuel macron Speaking during a visit to Burkina Faso last year
France’s President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Burkina Faso

The move “marks a potential milestone in the fight by African countries to recover works pillaged by Western explorers and colonisers,” according to Reuters. Western institutions, including the British Museum, have refused to return objects to their countries of origin – occasionally choosing to offer them on loan instead.

Image result for British Museum
British Museum

But some governments, such as Ethiopia and Greece, “have rejected the idea of loans, saying they should not have to borrow back their own stolen property,” Reuters adds.

Written by James Gathitu

I am a writer, performer, creative entrepreneur, and adventurer! My journey has been crazy and has led me at this very moment to you.

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