26 royal artifacts stolen by French colonials returned to Benin after nearly 130 years.

February 21, 2022

President of Benin, Patrice Talon, inaugurates an exhibition displaying 26 royal treasures returned by France. The exhibition entitled “Benin art yesterday and today,” attended by royal guests and traditional chiefs, was in a 2,000-square-metre (21,500-square-foot) space in the presidential palace located in the capital, Cotonou.

French colonials looted the artifacts in 1892 from former Abomey located in present-day southern Benin. The 26 pieces returned in November after two years of negotiations between Paris and Cotonou. In the exhibitions’ first room, there are massive black walls to enhance the displayed thrones of Dahomey, including the wood and metal sculpture throne of king Ghezo.

Some artifacts were donated to museums in Europe and United States by descendants of colonial administrators, troops, or doctors. Others were gifted to missionaries, obtained by African art collectors in the 20th century, or discovered by scientific expeditions.

More artifacts like the sculpture of the god Gou in the Louvre Museum in Paris, French, are expected to be returned to Benin as stated by President Emmanuel Macron. French lawmakers have passed a bill allowing Paris to return artifacts to Benin and Senegal, another former French colony.

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