Restitution of African Cultural Artifacts

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SAY NO TO LOANING BACK AFRICAN ARTIFACTS - RETURN ARTIFACTS BACK TO AFRICA UNCONDITIONALLY  Private Collector returns Art

95% of the cultural treasures of Africa are out of Africa. They are in the Tervuren Museum in Brussels, in the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, in the British Museum in London, etc. These artifacts were stolen during Colonisation, often in a context of violence and massacre, and today, thousands of objects, and even human remains, are retained as trophies.

            We are not speaking only about the crimes of the past committed by the armies. We are talking also about contemporary offences : the museums are complicit of all this, because they are guilty of concealment and benefit from these treasures. The taste for fine arts can never be an excuse for such attitudes at the expense and detriment to another nation. The Director General of the Unesco recalled in May 1977 : « some have lost almost all the cultural property that constitutes a vital aspect of their collective memory and a message handed down from their past. These peoples call for an understanding of their loss. »

            Great Britain still detains artifacts that belong to Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, India, etc. UK even has objects from countries, like Ethiopia, which were not British colonies. This situation is not acceptable. The intercultural dialogue cannot be based on intercultural looting and pillage.

            Restitution cannot be denied. It is a matter of justice and culture, obviously ; it is also a spiritual matter as many of these artifacts have a religious meaning in the tradition they belong to. It is also an economic matter : these treasures can be a touristic resource for the former colonies.

The restitution of 26 objects to Benin from France “does not change the policy of the British Museum, nor legislation in Great Britain,” said Hartwig Fischer, the director of the London institution, which has 73,000 objects from sub-Saharan Africa in its collections, many obtained in colonial times.