France returns 26 ancient artifacts taken from Benin

  • On Tuesday, France returned over 26 artifacts taken in the 19th century from the former African colony, Benin
  • Patrice Talon, president of Benin, and culture minister Jean-Michel Abimbola traveled to Paris to sign the agreement to return the artifacts
  • The artworks were taken from the Palaces of Abomey, now a Unesco World Heritage site, in 1892

PARIS, France: On Tuesday, France returned over 26 artifacts taken in the 19th century from the former African colony, Benin.

Patrice Talon, president of Benin, and culture minister Jean-Michel Abimbola traveled to Paris to sign the agreement to return the artifacts.

The artworks were taken from the Palaces of Abomey, now a Unesco World Heritage site, in 1892.

They are only some of the 5,000 artifacts Benin is demanding from France, and are being displayed in a museum in Paris, alongside thousands of other artifacts taken from other African countries.

Talon said he felt an “overwhelming emotion” when receiving the artifacts.

After a signing ceremony at the Elysee Palace, Talon stated, “You will agree with me that the restitution of 26 artworks we are celebrating today is only a step in the ambitious process of equity and of restitution of heritage extorted from the territory of the Benin by France.”

The handover is a milestone in the efforts of African countries to recover stolen artifacts from Europe, including 90,000 African art pieces in France, with the Quai Branly Museum in Paris containing some 70,000 items.

Reports also suggest 90 percent of African artworks are located outside the continent.

In 2016, Benin asked France to return artifacts from the Kingdom of Dahomey, including sacred doors from the Royal Palaces of Aboma.

This process began in 2017 after French president Emmanuel Macron agreed to the request, and a report he commissioned in 2018 recommended French museums return artifacts held in France.

Source: Einnews

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