Benin

L'Afrique demande la restitution de biens culturels

Title: L'Afrique demande la restitution de biens culturels / Restitution von Kunstschätzen: Afrika will Fakten schaffen
Author: Luis Nicolas Jachmann
Media Outlet: Arte
Publish Date: January 2, 2019

“Le numérique offre de nouvelles possibilités car cet espace démocratique « n’est pas encore colonisé », comme le constate Al-Badri. « Il comporte un fort potentiel d’émancipation », mais, pour l’artiste, se contenter de numériser les objets qui se trouvent en Europe pour en envoyer une copie en Afrique n’est pas une bonne solution. Cela équivaudrait « à ne rien vouloir changer. Ce serait le pire usage que l’on puisse faire de la numérisation ».”

“Neue Möglichkeiten biete das Digitale, weil dieser demokratische Raum „noch nicht kolonisiert ist“, wie Al-Badri feststellt. „Es gibt ein großes emanzipatorisches Potential“, sagt sie. Die Objekte in Europa hingegen schlichtweg zu digitalisieren und eine Kopie nach Afrika zu schicken, sei der falsche Weg. Das stünde dann wieder für den Pfad, „nichts verändern zu wollen. Das wäre das Schlechteste, was man aus der Digitalisierung machen könnte“, sagt Al-Badri.”

 

On the Heels of a Dramatic Restitution Report, France Is Returning 26 Artifacts to Benin. Will Other Countries Follow Suit?

Title: On the Heels of a Dramatic Restitution Report, France Is Returning 26 Artifacts to Benin. Will Other Countries Follow Suit?
Author: Naomi Rea
Media Outlet: Artnet News
Publish Date: November 26, 2018

“(…) Other European nations holding African collections acquired under comparable circumstances should also engage in the conversation, Macron urged on Friday. He invited African and European partners to meet in Paris in the first three months of 2019 to “build together this new relationship and policy of exchange.” The consultation will bring together African states and former European colonial powers such as Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.”

Why western museums should keep their treasures

Title: Why western museums should keep their treasures
Author: Tiffany Jenkins
Media Outlet: The Guardian
Publish Date: November 25, 2018

“(…) But whilst it’s true that the acquisition of many museum objects, seen through modern-day eyes, is ugly, so too is much of history. When the first wave of the Benin Bronzes was created in the 13th century, in an artistic golden age, Benin was an empire. The artists in the royal court fashioned the plaques out of brass bracelets brought by Portuguese traders, that had been exchanged for ivory, pepper – and slaves. The objects campaigners want to be returned, to apologise for colonisation, then, were crafted on the back of the slave trade. Following the logic of righting historical wrongs, aren’t these artworks tainted by that immoral practice? Perhaps the descendants of the Benin king should apologise for slavery, before they are approved as morally worthy owners of the artefacts.

With victimisation as the moral basis for the ownership of artefacts, there could be no end to competitive claim-making.”

Report calls for France to return art taken during colonialism to Africa

Title: Report calls for France to return art taken during colonialism to Africa
Authors: Hermann Boko, Claire Mufson
Media Outlet: France24
Publish Date: November 23, 2018

President Emmanuel Macron announced Friday that France would return 26 works of art to Benin, hours after he was presented with a report calling for thousands of African artworks in French museums and taken during the colonial period to be returned.

The report, by French art historian Bénédicte Savoy and Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr, recommends that French museums give back work if African countries request them.

The report estimates that up to 90 percent of African art is outside the continent, including statues, thrones and manuscripts. Some 70,000 of the estimated 90,000 works of sub-Saharan art in France’s public collections are held by just one museum, the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, which opened in 2006 to showcase non-European art, much of it from former French colonies.

It will be up to Macron to determine the feasibility of the report’s recommendations. France has strict laws that consider African artifacts state property even if they were taken illicitly. Removing any works from the state collections will require an amendment to currentcultural heritage laws.

Museums throughout Europe are watching closelyfor what happens next.”

Marie-Cécile Zinsou : "Restituer les objets pillés pour retrouver notre fierté"

Title: Marie-Cécile Zinsou : "Restituer les objets pillés pour retrouver notre fierté"
Author: Pauline Paccard
Media Outlet: France24
Publish Date: September 6, 2018

“Marie-Cécile Zinsou est historienne, franco-béninoise. Il y a treize ans, elle a monté à Cotonou la Fondation d’art contemporain qui porte son nom et qui a accueilli depuis 5 millions de visiteurs. Elle se bat aussi pour que la France rende au Bénin et à l’Afrique en général, les œuvres d’art volées lors de la colonisation. Où en sommes-nous un peu moins d’un an après le discours de Ouagadougou d’Emmanuel Macron ?”

After 120 years, Nigeria’s stolen art could be returning home from Britain—but only on loan

Title: After 120 years, Nigeria’s stolen art could be returning home from Britain—but only on loan
Author: Asiedu, Kwasi Gyamfi
Media Outlet: Quartz Africa
Publish Date: June 21, 2018

Nigeria’s looted art could be returning home from cultural institutions such as the British Museum after officials said they were open to the idea of it being a loan. Some of the most prized items stolen by British forces are the Benin kingdom’s bronze statues.

The statues were pillaged in 1897 as British forces sought to wipe out the kingdom in what is known as the ‘punitive expedition’ for acts deemed an upfront to the colonial-occupier government. Despite repeated attempts by Nigerian authorities and traditional elders for them returned home, the statues remain unmoved in the British Museum in London or shipped across to other western museums.