The French President ‘Emmanuel Macron’ has agreed to return African artifacts back to Africa, “Without delay”, 26 African artworks claimed by Benin, according to the president’s office.
President Macron decided on Friday 23rd November that the artifacts would be returned back to the countries of its origin starting with Benin. After receiving a report from French art historian, Benedicte Savoy, and Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr detailing how former colonizers can return looted artworks to Africa.
The western African country of Benin is the first country that President Macron has publicly said will have their artifacts returned. After Benin officially asked for their return some years ago. President Macron said the statues would be returned “without delay”.
Twenty-six thrones and statues were taken from Benin (then Kingdom of Dahomey in 1892 during a colonial war and all 26 are being returned.
President Macron also says “the return of art to Benin should not be an isolated case”. He “hopes that all possible circulation of these works is considered: returns but also exhibitions, loans, further cooperation”.
Currently about 90 percent of African art is at present housed in museums and private collections outside the continent, including statues, thrones and manuscripts.
Now the decision to return artefacts has caused controversy as African officials have welcomed it but European art dealers have expressed concerns that repatriation will leave some French museums nearly empty.