Saturday 24 November 2018

After experts' recommendation, France 'will return' non-iconic artefacts to Benin Republic

Some of the recommended artefacts of Dahomey origin listed for return by France.

Hope rises for return of looted artefacts of African origin as French President Emmanuel Macron has now made specific promise that France will return 26 artworks taken from Dahomey (now Benin Republic).

Macron had commissioned experts to recommend list of items to be returned. His announcement, according to a BBC reports yesterday  followed the experts' report recommending that African treasures in French museums be returned to their countries of origin.

The panel of experts, commissioned by the president to study the issue of African artworks in French museums, presented their findings to him on Friday. The reports said 26 thrones and statues were taken in 1892 during a colonial war against the then Kingdom of Dahomey.

They are currently on display in the Quai Branly museum in Paris. But non of the artefacts belong in the iconic cultural objects that have been so disputed. Perhaps, the old Dahomey has no iconic artefacts in the texture of Benin Kingdom kind such as the Idia Mask.

President Macron said the statues would be returned "without delay", and assured that the return of art to Benin should not be an isolated case. Macron "hopes that all possible circulation of these works is considered: returns but also exhibitions, loans, further cooperation", the Elysee palace said.

Meanwhile, Ousmane Aledji, directorof the Benin cultural centre Artisttik Africa, told the AFP news agency he was pleased to see "a new form of cultural exchange" with France.
The official report states that most of the Africa collection in the Quai Branly museum - approximately 46,000 pieces - was acquired with some degree of duress.

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