France to return stolen Benin statues by 2021 after over 120 years in Paris

Nii Ntreh December 17, 2019
African artifacts in European museums serve a timeless reminder of how overwhelming European domination over Africans used to be. Photo Credit: New York Times

The French government has set 2021 to return stolen artifacts during their colonial occupation of Benin.

According to France‘s culture minister, Franck Riester, the artifacts include 26 statues and thrones looted by French forces from the kingdom of Dahomey.

The artifacts are being kept in the Quai Branly museum in Paris. They were taken in apparent punishment of one of Dahomey’s wars of resistance against French control.

A significant majority of African artworks came to be in possession of Europeans by similar circumstances. In all, there are over 400,000 pieces of African art in European museums.

Last month, France returned a sabre belonging to a 19th-century Senegalese Islamic scholar and ruler, Omar Tall.

France said the move was part of the government’s commitment to give back key items of cultural heritage it stole from its former West African colonies.

The country is also funding a number of museum projects in some of its former colonies.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: December 17, 2019


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