Macron, the pioneer of the return of plundered heritage: Abomey’s treasure returns to Benin


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France is playing this Wednesday 26 works of Abomey Wangku returned to Benin At a ceremony hosted by Emmanuel Macron, The first European leader to return part of the legacy plundered during colonialism to Africa.

“Faced with the fact that 95% of African heritage is outside its borders, France cannot remain passive. There is no reason why the youth of Benin cannot be exposed to their heritage“Macron said at the symbolic entrance ceremony held at the French Museum of Ethnology Quai de Brainly.

Event from Benin Aurelian Abenunchi, Representing the president of that country, Patrice ClawIn November this year, he will meet Macron in France to sign an asset transfer agreement.

Macron looked at the returned work.


“The people victims of this plunder are not deprived of irreplaceable works of art, Being deprived can help them understand their memories betterFor better understanding. Women and men in this country have the right to let them come back,” he said. Macron.

“Benin is very happy to commemorate history with France, and France hopes to accept the return request signed in our office in August 2016. There are many obstacles, and we can’t imagine this moment,” Abenonchi said.

Among the returned works are three statues representing ancient leaders. Kingdom of DahomeyLocated in the current city of Abomey, famous for its female army, it is now one of the tourist attractions of this African country and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

Recap history

There are also thrones among the 26 pieces, all of which were snatched by the generals Alfred-Amed Doz, Who later led the deception of the French to make King Behanzin He was going to meet the president in Paris, and they forced him to exile to Martinique.

A story about deception and domination was absolutely taboo until a few years ago. Restoration work not only affects these works: France is also changing the tone of its history.

Starting from Quai de Brainly, they now insist on saying “traps” to King Béhanzin and describe what used to be called sacrifices as “public executions” in order to put the ancient African and Western customs on the same level.

Macron, in Benin.

Macron, in Benin.


In Paris, these 26 works were exhibited for the last time this week at the ethnological museum, which has been at the center of global controversy over returning artworks to Africa. This thorny issue continues to divide European museums.

Taking France as an example, it is estimated that there are 90,000 pieces of African artOf these 70,000 pieces are located in Quai de Branly, and a little over half was obtained during the colonial period.

Macron got engaged in 2017 and went to Burkina Faso, Return the estate within five years.

A year later, a report by a French researcher and Senegalese professor and writer called for the return of works obtained through theft or violence, and established a legal framework to approve the return.

World echo

The bill and the document enacted French laws regulating the publication of these works in 2020, and they have also received close attention in countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Belgium, which also have illegally acquired African works.

Therefore, France launched a campaign that should have resonated in Brussels, and promised to return to Brussels this year. Democratic Republic of Congo Approximately 880 works stolen during the colonial period are on display at the famous Central African Museum in Tervuren, 12 kilometers from the capital. The origin of other works will be studied in the coming years 35,000 pieces.

Germany also showed its willingness to return this year Nigeria A series of bronzes stolen in the 19th century.

In terms of restoration, Benin passed a law in October to ensure the protection of its cultural heritage and promised to create infrastructure and equipment that meet international standards.

“We will continue the documentation work with our French colleagues. These are the works taken by General Dodds without a record. This is a basic work. It is time to delve into these files and have a specific description for each work. The vision,” told Efe Director of Calixte Biah Ouidah History Museum.

These works will be exhibited in the museum and then permanently installed in the future Amazon Epic and the American King Museum in Daho.

For the curators, the return of these works to Benin is a historic moment and the pride of the people of Benin.

On Wednesday, Macron recalled that the country also approved the return of a precious saber to Senegal, And others will be sent temporarily or permanently to Madagascar with Ivory coast.


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