Sunday 7 July 2019

Return of artefacts: Tactical retreat of Macron’s France

 Wooden royal statues of 19th-century Dahomey Kingdom (Benin Republic), at the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, France
 Last November French President Emmanuel Macron turned the table when he announced his country’s intention to return 26 artefacts to Republic of Benin.

On Thursday, during a symposium in Paris, French Culture Minister Franck Riester said Benin was not ready to receive the artifacts for lack of a proper museum, say reports monitored during the weekend. "From our side, we are aware the condition to receive these pieces is not really there," Riester said. "Why? Because we have museums … but they are suffering. A lot of waste and mismanagement [in] the past," VOA was uoted the minister.

Also, others reported how Riester warned that "France will examine all requests presented by African nations" but asked them not to "focus on the sole issue of restitution."

More interesting, a representative of Benin at the symposium confirmed lack of space to receive the artefacts. Jose Pliya, who heads Benin's National Heritage and Tourism Development Agency, NAPT, said, the pending return of the artefacts is welcome, but added that “Benin now has to find a place to put them.”

The disclosure, according to the reports was made during a symposium at the French Academy, which focused on “wider cultural cooperation with Africa.“

However, the minister assured that Paris will go ahead with the restitution without waiting for a new law to validate the return. He said France will consider similar demands from other countries.

Last November. a report authored by Bénédicte Savoy and Felwin Sarr  recommended return of controversial artefacts of African origin in France. After the Savoy-Sarr report that generated controversy across Europe,  President Macron announced that an France will implement the reports immediately.
 -African Arts with Taj.

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