French President Agrees To Return African Artworks ‘Stolen’ From Benin, Nigeria
Report has it that the president of France, Emmanuel Macron has agreed to immediately return 26 African artworks claimed by Benin, Edo state, Nigeria.
It was gathered that the decision on Friday came shortly after Macron received a report detailing how former colonisers can return looted artworks to Africa.
According to AFP, government officials from Ethiopia to Senegal eagerly awaited the report, commissioned by Macron and compiled by French art historian, Benedicte Savoy, and Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr.
It recommends that the thousands of items in French museums taken without consent during the colonial period be returned to the continent. Unless it can be proven that the objects were obtained legitimately, they should be returned to Africa permanently, the report’s authors say.
Savoy and Starr also recommend changing the French law to allow the restitution of cultural works to Africa, after Macron announced that he wanted the process to begin within five years.
French law currently forbids the government from ceding state property, regardless of how it was obtained. The report estimates that the British Museum has a collection of 69,000 works from Africa.
The museum declined to comment further before hearing Macron’s reaction to the report. “In the meantime, the British Museum will continue to work with our colleagues across Africa,” said the spokesperson, adding that the museum had “committed to lending objects on a rotating basis to the planned new Royal Museum in Benin City, Nigeria”.