France transferred 26 royal treasures including holy altars and statuary, which were stolen 130 years ago from Benin, to the African State. President Emmanuel Macron met with his counterpart Patrice Talon at Paris.
Macron claimed that Talon and he had agreed to the return of the artifacts earlier in the day. The French president said that Macron was the one who signed the agreement. “very happy because it is a moment, not only symbolic, but moving and historical.”
Macron noted that the first repatriation request issued by the Beninese authorities in 2016 had been refused by the French government at the time on the grounds that the treasures were an important part of the country’s public collection.
The 26 works – plundered by French troops in 1892 during the sacking of the Royal Palaces of Abomey – will leave with Talon on his return to Benin.
Talon thanked Macron “symbolic and unexpected”France was able to show solidarity, while also stating that France still had much work ahead of it. “How do you expect my enthusiasm to be complete”Beninese leader asking if France has other artifacts of importance.
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The Artifacts of Benin were displayed at Musee du Quai Branly Jacques Chirac in Paris one final time, in October.
The items will be displayed at several locations once they are back in Benin. This includes the Museum of History of Ouidah. It is a former Portuguese fort located in the ex-slave-trading center. The items will be eventually displayed in Abomey’s museum that is part-funded in part by France.
Macron commissioned an inquiry that counted around 90,000 African artifacts in French collections. Approximately 70,000 are at Quai Branly. Benedicte Savio, a French historian, and Felwine Tarr (a Senegalese academic) wrote specialized 2018 reports on the subject. They cited estimations that 90% of African cultural objects were stolen from Africa.
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