The colonial heritage of France is judged on African art


“We have young people who have an identity problem,” Mr. Job said in an interview, “who, in the face of a lack of action, a lack of political will, found it legitimate to do the work that the others don’t. ”

Speaking to the judge, Julie Djaka, a 34-year-old defendant who grew up in a Congolese family, said: “For you, these are works. For us, it is entities, ritual objects that have maintained order at home, in our villages in Africa, which have enabled us to do justice.

Marie-Cécile Zinsou, president of the Zinsou Art Foundation in Benin and daughter of a former Prime Minister of Benin, said that although she does not share the methods of the activists, she understands “why they exist”. “We cannot be ignored and looked down upon all the time,” she said.

“In France, there is a post-colonial vision of the African continent,” Zinsou added, saying that some leading French cultural figures still doubted that African countries could preserve works of art.

Such grievances over France’s postcolonial legacy were fully brought into play Wednesday during the trial as a small crowd of around 50, mostly activists from the Pan-African movement, were barred from entering the room. hearing by the police due to concerns about the coronavirus and because some feared their presence would disrupt the trial.

The activists shouted “gang of thieves” and “slavers” at the police officers who sealed off the entrance to the courtroom and they chanted: “Give us back our works of art!


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