FRANCE ON COURSE TO RESTITUTION OF LOOTED AFRICAN ARTEFACTS
Throne of King Ghézo, Abomey, Dahomey, Republic of Benin, now in Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, France, to be returned to Benin.
After the very intensive discussions of French restitution policy, largely prompted by the Sarr-Savoy report, and by persons who have not read the report but preferred to repeat their old opposition to restitution, one is encouraged by the recent affirmation and confirmation by the French Minister of Culture, Riester, that the French government remains committed to its proclaimed policy of restitution and is taking concrete steps to ensure the implementation of its decision to restitute African artefacts held in France. The minister made this declaration at a recent conference in Paris on African patrimonies, held on 4 July, at the Institut de France. (1)
Before a large number of conservators, historians, archaeologists, art historians, museum directors, administration officials and journalists, Franck Riester declared, inter alia, that:
France was entering a new era, rethinking her cultural relationship with the African Continent;
The report of Bénédicte Savoy and Felwine Sarr, presented to the President of the Republic last November, contributes to the intellectual debate of today. I wish to salute them here and to recall the important work they have accomplished;
Thus, the President of the Republic has decided to restitute to Benin 26 works reclaimed by the authorities of the country, war booty, seized by General Dodds from the palace of Béhanzin in 1892;
We have been working since several months with the Benin authorities to concretize this commitment and guaranty the effective transfer of these works
France will examine with the same care demands which may be presented by the authorities of other African countries. Beyond that, the new policy of cooperation that we have to build together cannot be restricted to the sole issue of restitutions.
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