France, like so many European countries, is being urged to return looted art to Africa. Below is the article. For the full article, go to the Guardian.
A report commissioned by Emmanuel Macron will call for thousands of African artworks in French museums taken without consent during the colonial period to be returned to the continent.
Unless it could be proven that objects were obtained legitimately, they should be returned to Africa permanently, not on long-term loan, said the authors of the report, the Senegalese writer and economist Felwine Sarr and the French historian Bénédicte Savoy.
They have recommended changing French law to allow the restitution of cultural works to Africa, after Macron announced that he wanted it to begin within five years.
… “I cannot accept that a large part of the cultural heritage of several African countries is in France,” the French president said last year in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. “There are historical explanations for this but there is no valid, lasting and unconditional justification. African heritage cannot be only in private collections and European museums – it must be showcased in Paris but also in Dakar, Lagos and Cotonou. This will be one of my priorities.” [Politicians always make promises, but never deliver. Let’s wait and see if Macron can do anything. In 2015, Francois Hollande, then French President Acknowledged French Genocide in Cameroon while in visit in Cameroon, without ever apologizing!]
The extent to which France, Britain and Germany looted Africa of its artefacts during colonialism is not known, but according to the report, which will be released this Friday, about 90% of Africa’s cultural heritage currently lies outside the continent.
… The report’s authors travelled to Mali, Senegal, Cameroon and Benin and looked through the works held by the Musée du quai Branly, a museum focused on non-European cultures in Paris, and found that about 46,000 of its 90,000 African works were “acquired” between 1885 and 1960 and may have to be returned.
… To start with, they [the researchers] have recommended that palace doors, thrones and statues stolen from Abomey be returned – something the modern-day country of Benin has long requested [especially given that Béhanzin, the King of Dahomey, was one of the last African Resistant to French Colonization, and had been deported to Martinique and then Algeria – Deportation of African Heads of States]….
4 thoughts on “France urged to change heritage law and return looted art to Africa”
I really hope those nations get their art and artifacts back. They deserve their artwork on so many levels. Funny enough, Benin was mentioned in Black Panther when Killmonger is at the British art museum and he calls out the curator for stealing the artifacts. I think that’s an interesting connection.
Oh yes… you are right… it was mentioned in the Black Panther movie in the museum… however I think he might have been talking about artifacts from the Benin kingdom (which is today part of Nigeria) which are almost in every major museum of this world.
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Good call and thanks for correcting me. I just remembered the name Benin being mentioned, they may have meant the Benin Empire instead. I sometimes forget that the Benin Empire was separate from Benin/Dahomey Empire during that time period. There’s even a Benin City in Nigeria which I thought was a bit strange, but it makes sense because of that Kingdom.
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