Benin showcases stolen treasures returned by France
Benin celebrates the artifacts it retrieved from France after the latter stole them from the African nation during their colonial rule.
Benin President Patrice Talon will inaugurate Saturday an exhibition of historic treasures returned by France in November after the colonial power had stolen them over a century ago from the African nation.
As of Sunday, Benin will be displaying the 26 pieces finally returned by its former colonizers, some of which the Beninese see as sacred.
The exhibition will take place in a 2,000-square-metre space in the presidential palace in Cotonou in a show entitled "Benin art yesterday and today".
Paris returning the looted artifacts comes as Africa's Western countries call on their former colonizer to give back the colonial spoils from France's museums and private collections.
The United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany are also among the countries that looted artifacts from Africa and have been receiving requests to return their colonial spoils to the continent.
Benin welcomed back in November nearly 30 royal treasures looted during France's colonial rule, and the Beninese president and culture minister went to France to bring back the colonial spoils.
The French initiative came as part of Macron's alleged attempt to "restore African heritage," following the massacres committed by France all over the continent during its colonial era, which was not only characterized by genocide but also looting and theft.
"With this exhibition, we are returning to the Benin people part of their soul, part of their history and their dignity," Benin Culture Minister Jean-Michel Abimbola told AFP on Saturday.
The objects "were taken from a kingdom, but they are returning to a republic", reflecting how much change occurred since France colonized Africa and looted it.
In the first room of the exhibition, immense black walls offer solemnity for a display of the thrones of Dahomey, including the wood and metal sculpture throne of king Ghezo.
"Since it was installed, I haven't stopped contemplating it," said a guide in the exhibition.
"I had already seen it in the Quai Branly museum in France, but to see it here, home with us, it brings back part of our soul and connects with his our history," he added.