France restores African art – .

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France restores African art – .



PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said his country would return 26 African works of art – royal thrones, ceremonial altars, revered statues – to Benin later this month, as part of promised plans to long time by France to render works of art.

PARIS (AP) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said his country would return 26 African works of art – royal thrones, ceremonial altars, revered statues – to Benin later this month, as part of promised plans to France has a long tradition of restoring works of art taken in Africa during the colonial era.
Discussions have been going on for years about the return of 19th-century artwork from the Dahomey Kingdom. Called the “Treasures of Abomey”, they are currently kept at the Quai Branly museum in Paris. The museum, near the Eiffel Tower, houses thousands of works from the former French colonies.
Macron said the 26 pieces will be returned at the end of October, “because returning these works to Africa is giving young Africans access to their culture.” It is not known when exactly they will arrive in Benin.
“We have to be honest with ourselves. There was colonial looting, it’s quite true, ”Macron told a group of African cultural figures during an Africa-France gathering in the southern city of Montpellier. He noted that other works have already been returned in Senegal and Benin, and the restitution of art in Côte d’Ivoire is planned.
Cameroonian-born art curator Koyo Kouoh pressured Macron to redouble his efforts to right the wrongs of the past.
“Our imagination has been violated,” she said.
“Africa has been married to France in a forced marriage for at least 500 years,” Kouoh said. “The work (on restoring relationships) that should have been done for decades has not been done… There is no way we will end up here in 2021.”
A comprehensive 2018 report commissioned by Macron recommended that French museums return works taken without consent, estimating that up to 90% of African art is located outside the continent. Some other European countries are making similar efforts.
Three years later, few works of art have been returned. To facilitate the repatriation of the Abomey Treasures, the French Parliament adopted a law in December 2020 allowing the State to return the works and giving it up to one year to do so.
The Africa-France meeting on Friday was frank and sometimes stormy. Macron, who is trying to develop a new French strategy for Africa. met hundreds of African entrepreneurs, cultural leaders and young people.
Speakers from Nigeria, Chad, Guinea and elsewhere had a long list of demands for France: reparations for colonial crimes, withdrawal of French troops, investments that bypass corrupt governments, and a tougher stance on African dictatorships. .
Macron defended France’s military presence in Mali and other countries in the Sahel region as necessary to keep terrorists at bay, and he refused to apologize for the past.
But he recognized that France has a “responsibility and a duty” to Africa because of its role in the slave trade and other colonial-era misdeeds. Noting that more than 7 million French people have a family link with Africa, Macron said that France can only build its future if it “assumes its Africanness”.
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Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed.

Angela Charlton, The Associated Press

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