26 cultural artefacts are returning home to Africa after over 100 years in France
French President Emmanuel Macron has agreed to return these artworks to Benin.
On Friday, November 23, 2018, French PresidentEmmanuel Macronannounced his plans to return these artworks to Benin "without delay".
These will include the royal statues which were reportedly taken by the French army during a war in 1892, which happened 126 years old.
According to AFP, President Macron made this decision based on findings of a study he commissioned in 2016 after Benin demanded the French country to return its artworks, carvings, sceptres and sacred doors.
Following the request, which was initially denied, the president gave a speech in a speech in Burkina Faso. In the speech, delivered in November 2016, he pledged to "return African heritage to Africa".
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Afterwards, Macron asked French art historian Benedicte Savoy andSenegalese writer Felwine Sarr to look into the matter.
They concluded that these artefacts need to be returned as these collections are depriving Africans of their artistic and cultural heritage.
It said, "On a continent where 60 per cent of the population is under the age of 20 years old, what is first and foremost of a great importance is for young people to have access to their own culture, creativity, and spirituality from other eras."
However, the report has made stipulations for the return of these artefacts. These conditions include a request from the relevant country, correct information concerning the works' origins, and proper facilities to house the works in their home country.
Macron's office added that museums will be invited to "identify African partners and organise possible returns" and establish "an online inventory of their African collections".
The French president has also called for African and European partners to gather in Paris next year to figure out a framework for an "exchange policy" for these African artworks.
Ousmane Aledji, director of the Benin cultural centre Artisttik Africa, has welcomed the move saying that he was pleased to see "a new form of cultural exchange" with France.
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