France to Return 26 Artifacts Seized By Colonists to Benin


France will return to Benin 26 cultural heritage objects that French colonizers exported from the country in 1892, the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

The initiative was launched by Musee du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, where these objects are currently disposed.

The president of the republic [Emmanuel Macron] has decided to immediately return the 26 objects previously demanded by the Benin authorities. The objects were taken from [Benin] King Behanzin’s palace by [French] Gen. Dodds as war trophies after bloody battles held in 1892. These relics can be presented to the Benin community and the global community within an ambitious museum project currently implemented in the Republic of Benin,” the statement, released late on Friday, read.

The statement went on to say that the French government would take necessary steps, including legislative measures, to ensure the objects return. Musee du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac will provide its assistance as well.

According to the statement, Macron has suggested to hold a meeting with African and European partners in Paris in the first quarter of 2019 in order to “build new relations and exchange policy.”

On Friday, French scientist Benedicte Savoy and Senegalese scientist Felwine Sarr presented to Macron a report on the restitution of African cultural heritage objects exported during the French colonization.

The report was created at Macron’s request. Following his visit to Burkina Faso in November 2017, the French president pledged to “ensure all conditions for temporary or permanent return of cultural heritage objects to Africa” in five years.

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