November 10, 2021

Benin: France Returns Ancient Artefacts

French officials have formally returned 26 colonial-era artefacts to their rightful country of origin, Benin.

In a ceremony at Paris’ Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac Museum on Tuesday, 9 November, French President Emmanuel Macron handed over the objects, which date back approximately 130 years to France’s mass looting during their war against the Kingdom of Dahomey, once a former monarchy in modern-day Benin.

Macron’s counterpart, President Patrice Talon, said he was filled with “overwhelming emotion” while signing the transfer treaty for the objects’ repatriation – which include a royal throne, three totemic statues, palace doors, dance staffs, and altars – stating that part of his country’s “soul” had been returned.

The artefacts will be shipped within a week to Cotonou, Benin’s economic hub; the repatriation is seen as part of France’s efforts to improve ties with several African nations, by giving “African youth back access to their heritage.”

Last year, French lawmakers emphatically voted for a bill that enabled the move to restore such objects to Benin and Senegal, both former French colonies in western Africa.

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