…as calls for return of Africa’s works grow
The French government has returned an artifact that belonged to a 19th century Senegalese scholar and ruler.
French Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, recently handed the artifact – a sword, made from brass and wood, which originally belonged to Omar Saidou Tall – over to Senegal’s President, Macky Sall in Dakar.
Tall had been an anti-colonial ruler who led the struggle against the French in the 1850s but eventually signed a peace treaty with the French in 1860.
After his death in 1864, his sword and books were seized by the colonialists.
In 2018, France, through a report commissioned by its President, Emmanuel Macron, recommended that plundered artworks from sub-Saharan Africa during the colonial period be returned through permanent restitution.
The report also revealed that French museums is in possession of at least 90,000 pieces originally from sub-Saharan Africa with about 70,000 in Paris’ Quai Branly museum alone.
There is a trend of looted artifacts being returned to their original countries due to pressure from African governments.
Germany had announced in May that it would return the ‘Stone Cross’ a fifteenth century high navigation landmark back to Namibia where it was taken from.
Last year, the British Museum also agreed to return Benin Bronzes looted by British soldiers back to Nigeria where it belongs and had also agreed in principle with the Lagos State Government under Akinwunmi Ambode to return the famous Lander Stool along with 19 other artefacts as part of the content for the J.K Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History.
Also, on Thursday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, at a press conference put foreign countries holding Nigerian artefacts in their domains on notice of Nigerian government’s intention to commence an aggressive campaign and demand for the return of its artefacts abroad.