France returns Benin’s treasure and the 129-year journey is nearing its end | World News

THOMAS ADAMSON AP communication

Paris (AP) —A decision that could affect the entire European museum, France finally exhibited 26 looted colonial relics before returning to Benin.

Wooden anthropomorphic statues, royal thrones and sacred altars were stolen by French troops from West Africa in the 19th century.

President Emmanuel Macron made a groundbreaking speech in 2017, suggesting that France needs to correct past mistakes, no longer saying that “most of the cultural heritage of many African countries is in France.” He said it was unacceptable. It set the roadmap for the controversial return of royal treasures taken during the imperial and colonial era. The French will have a final glimpse of the Quai Branly Museum-Jacques Chirac object from October 26th to 31st.

French Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot sought to ease the turmoil between museums in Europe, emphasizing that the initiative “sets no legal precedent.”

Last year, a French law was passed permitting the return of statues to the Republic of Benin and the return of the renowned sword to the Army Museum in Senegal.

However, she said that French government law deliberately specified that it would only apply to 27 artifacts. “(It) does not establish a general right to return” and “never matter” The right of French museums to retain their heritage.

But critics of such a move said they would open a water gate to empty the collection of western museums, including the British Museum in London, which has been tug of war with the Greek government for the return of Elgin Marbles for decades. Insist. Many consist of objects acquired or stolen during the colonial era. The French museum alone houses at least 90,000 relics from sub-Saharan Africa.

The story of “Abomey’s Treasure” is as dramatic as its carved shape. In November 1892, Colonel Alfred Dodds led a French expeditionary force into the Kingdom of Dahomey, south of what is now Benin. Colonized troops invaded Abomey Palace, home of King Behanzin, and obtained many royal items, including 26 crafts that Dodd donated to the Trocadero Ethnological Museum in Paris in the 1890s. rice field. Since 2003, the object has been housed in the Quai Branly Museum-Jacques Chirac.

After 129 years, their distant overseas trip is finally over.

At a press conference last week, Benin’s Minister of Culture, Jean-Michel Abimbora, called for the return of the work, a “historic milestone” and the beginning of further cooperation between the two countries. The country has set up a museum in Abomey to house treasures partially funded by the French government. The French Development Agency will donate approximately 35 million euros to the “Saga Museum of Amazons and King Dunhome” under a pledge signed this year.

According to Abimbora, the official transfer of the 26 works will be signed in Paris on November 9th in front of Macron, and the art will take place in Benin a few days later.

Locals say the decision is late, but the important thing is that the art is returned. Fortune Sossa, President of the Network of African Cultural Journalists, said:

Virgile Ahissou of Cotonou, Sylvie Corbet of Benin and Paris contributed to this report

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

France returns Benin’s treasure and the 129-year journey is nearing its end | World News

Source link France returns Benin’s treasure and the 129-year journey is nearing its end | World News

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