the art of restitution

Looted, pillaged, stolen…The long process of restituting Africa’s artefacts

By Marie Toulemonde

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Posted on November 8, 2021 08:37

Restitt TAR-02

After lengthy negotiations, France has finally agreed to return 26 looted Abomey Treasures to Benin. This is a very timid first step, given the number of looted artefacts still held in Europe and across the Atlantic.

“They will be the pride of Benin. And because returning works to Africa means making its culture accessible to African youth, these restitutions will also be the pride of France.” On 8 October, France’s President Emmanuel Macron officially and enthusiastically announced the first steps he had taken towards honouring the commitment he had made nearly four years ago, during a speech he had delivered in Ouagadougou in November 2017.

This is the final stage in the very long and almost unprecedented process of returning 26 works from the Abomey Treasures collection, which had been looted by General Alfred Dodds in 1897 and kept until now in Paris’ Quai Branly Museum.

A week later, another piece of good news on the restitution front came from Berlin. The German authorities announced that they had signed an agreement with Nigeria to return some 1,100 precious bronzes originating from the

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