Title: France Marches To Restitution Of Looted African Artefacts: What About Austria, Belgium, Britain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, And The United States Of America?
Author: Dr. Kwame Opoku
Media Outlet: Modern Ghana
Publish Date: December 11, 2018
“(…) This is, of course, an unwarranted exaggeration, not considering the suggestions the authors make for cooperation between the African States and France in the three phases of transfer of artefacts. If what Thomas misses is neo-colonial attempts to control the future destiny and use of the returned objects, then he may have a point. But what then is the need for restitution if the European States and their museums are going to exercise neo-colonialist supervisory control? This is a manifestation of the abiding belief of many Westerners that they have a God-given duty and right to control forever Africans and their use of their resources including artefacts. In that respect, many museum directors act as the last controllers for colonialism and imperialism.
(…) Whatever may be said and done in the area of restitution of looted African artefacts by European States, the report by Felwine Sarr and Benedicte Savoy, entitled The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage: Toward a New Relational Ethics has by its rigorous scientific approach and wide coverage of important issues, set new standards that will be applied to future works in this area. Their statistics on the number of African artefacts, country by country, in France is a milestone for research in this area. This will be compared to the reluctance of many Western museums to give us statistics about African artefacts they hold.
We are surprised by the resistance of some Westerners to this report which in many ways proposes what Western States should have done long ago in accordance with United Nations/UNESCO resolutions which the General Assembly has since 1972 been passing, urging the return of looted artefacts to their country of origin. The West has in this area adopted a lawless attitude which is very difficult to understand especially as no one denies that most of the African artefacts in Western museums and homes have been looted or acquired under dubious circumstances. The Sarr-Savoy report offers once more a great opportunity to put African-European relations on a new footing other than on the basis of force and military conquest. But are the Western States and their museums listening? The baseless arguments we thought we had left behind us long ago are being repeated by persons who should know better.”