France’s president Emmanuel Macron has promised to make the restitution of French-owned African heritage a priority over the next five years. In a speech delivered on a visit to the West African republic of Burkina Faso as part of his African tour today, he said that he wants “the conditions to be met for the temporary or permanent restitution of African heritage to Africa.”
The speech was delivered in the country’s capital city in front of around 800 students at the University of Ouagadougou. In the address, Macron spoke about the links between France and Africa and his hope to promote cultural exchange and the mobility of talented people between Europe and Africa.
Notably, Macron also spoke strongly and directly about restitution of African objects in French national collections. He said:
I cannot accept that a large part of cultural heritage from several African countries is in France. There are historical explanations for that, but there are no valid justifications that are durable and unconditional. African heritage can’t just be in European private collections and museums. African heritage must be highlighted in Paris, but also in Dakar, in Lagos, in Cotonou. In the next five years, I want the conditions to be met for the temporary or permanent restitution of African heritage to Africa. This will be one of my priorities.