neo-colonialist madness: france refuses to give back artwork stolen from benin

March 15, 2017

On August 26, Benin sent an official request for the return treasures looted by France during colonization. The French Government responded like colonizers do on March 8th with a complete refusal, their justification being: “The properties you mention have long been integrated, sometimes for more than a century, into the public domain of the French State. In accordance with the legislation in force, they are subject to the principles of inalienability, imprescriptibility and exemption from seizure. Consequently, their restitution is not possible.” Apparently, if you steal something and incorporate it into your daily life for a decent amount of time, you don’t have to give it back. Good to know.

But Benin refuses to give up fighting this nonsense. On the same day of France’s refusal, Pascal Koupaki, the secretary general of the presidency, announced a meeting between an official Beninese delegation and the French authorities to resume the process of restitution. “The meeting approved by the government will provide an opportunity to continue the talks in order to facilitate access to these wastes,” he said. Nevertheless, it is unlikely that these new negotiations will end with full restitution anytime soon.

Among the goods stolen by France are the statue of King Guezo, the royal recollections, the throne of Glele, and the sacred doors of his palace. In total, more than 5,000 pieces are claimed to have been distributed in several private museums, but the majority belong to the collections of the Musée du Quai Branly in Paris.

By Hari Ziyad, AFROPUNK Contributor