France to Return Looted Historical Pieces to Benin Republic and Senegal

Lawmakers in France have voted to return to Senegal and Benin prized artefacts that were looted during colonial era.

Benin will receive a throne taken in 1892 from the palace of Behanzin, the last king of what was then Dahomey. 25 other artefacts looted from Behanzin’s palace, which are currently being exhibited at the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum in Paris, will also be returned

Senegal will have a 19th-century sword belonging to El Hadj Omar, a major political and military figure, returned. The sword and its sheath are in the collection of France’s Army Museum but are currently exhibited in Dakar as part of a long-term loan.

The National Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour of the return of the artefacts on Thursday, with 48 votes in favour, none against and two abstentions.

Former colonial powers are under pressure to return looted artefacts, mainly from Africa. Already, there some 90,000 African artefacts in France, most from sub-Saharan Africa.

French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot said President Emmanuel Macron intended to “renew and deepen the partnership between France and the African continent”.

In October, an activist was fined €1,000 (£901) for removing a 19th-Century Chadian wooden funerary post from the Quai Branly.

A new museum in Germany, which opened on Wednesday, has attracted controversy as it will hold many looted items, including Benin bronzes that British soldiers stole from Nigeria.

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