France Approves Return of Looted African Artifacts

France Approves Return of Looted African Artifacts

Artifacts
Wooden African statuettes are housed in the Royal Museum for Central Africa, an ethnography and natural history museum in Belgium. Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
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Members of Parliament in France have approved the return of looted artifacts to Benin and Senegal thereby completing the legislative process. It also reinforcing Emmanuel Macron’s pledge by to restore ownership of looted objects. The MPs approved the restitutions with 48 votes in favor (none against and two abstentions).

Following the approval, 26 artifacts taken from the Palace of Behanzin in the late 19th century will be returned to Benin, including a royal throne, all of which are currently exhibited at the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum in Paris.

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As for Senegal, a sword once wielded by a 19th century Sheikh will be returned. The sword and its scabbard are part of a collection in France’s Army Museum, but are currently exhibited in Dakar as part of a long-term loan.

French museums harbor tens of thousands of objects, many of which are from Africa. According to Roselyne Bachelot, the Culture Minister, the decision reached by the French MPs to restore looted artifacts flows from Macron’s desire to “renew and deepen the partnership between France and the African continent”.

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