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

By Marie Toulemonde
Posted on Monday, 8 November 2021 09:37

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.