Commemorative head of a king (Kingdom of Benin, dated 17th-18th Century, made of copper alloy), one of the African artworks exhibited in the Bode Museum under the theme “Beyond Compare”, December 2018. Thousands of African artworks are in the possession of European museums, most of which were taken illegally from the continent during the era of colonialism/ Photo: Femi Awoniyi

Return all colonial treasures to Africa – group calls on Europe

An international organisation has called on European governments and private collectors to return African artefacts taken from Africa during the colonial period to their rightful owners.

“In recent months demands for the repatriation of the remains and the definitive restitution of the treasures have continued, as well as the attempts by some former colonizers to hinder this inevitable step of human evolution,” Colonialism Reparation said in a press statement, which covers in details the current situation of the struggle for the restitution of cultural goods taken forcibly from Africa.

Below is the text of the press statement:

“Colonialism Reparation asks the repatriation of the remains and the definitive restitution of the treasures looted by former colonizers as a first step in the direction of the Reparation of the damages of colonialism, stopping to hinder an inevitable step of human evolution,” the group said.

“On May 22, 2020 the Minister of Culture and Sports of Greece Lina Mendoni renewed the demand for the restitution of the Parthenon marbles, removed by Thomas Bruce 7th Earl of Elgin during the colonial period, to the British Museum of London in the United Kingdom.

“On June 12, 2020 the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights published the draft of the report Repatriation of ceremonial objects and human remains under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, whose final version planned for September 2020 has been postponed for the COVID-19 pandemic.

“On June 12, 2020 the group of activists Unité Dignité Courage carried out a first action of reappropriation of the colonial treasures at the Musée du quai Branly of Paris in France, followed on July 30, 2020 by a second at the Musée des Arts africains, océaniens et amérindiens of Marseilles in France, on September 10, 2020 by a third to the Afrika Musem of Berg en Dal in the Netherlands and on October 22, 2020 by a fourth to the Musée du Louvre of Paris in France.

Demonstrators in front of the Bode Museum in the central district of the German capital city in December 2018 / Photo: Femi Awoniyi

 

“On July 3, 2020, in the presence of the President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebbounee, the remains of twenty-four Algerian resistance to French colonization were welcomed in Algeria with a ceremony at the airport of Algiers, after having remained for a century and a half at the Muséum national d’histoire naturelle of Paris in France.

“On September18, 2020 the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt Khaled El-Anany renewed the demand for the restitution of the Nefertiti Bust, removed by Ludwig Borchardt during the colonial period, at the Neues Museum of Berlin in Germany.

“On October30, 2020 the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports of Jamaica Olivia Grange demanded the restitution of the sculptures of Taino zemi, removed by unknown persons during the colonial period, at the British Musem of London in the United Kingdom.

“On December 16, 2020, on the occasion of the opening of the Humboldt Forum, the Ambassador of Nigeria to Germany Yusuf Maitama Tuggar renewed the demand for the restitution of the treasures looted during the colonial period to the German Museums, followed in early 2021 by the artistic intervention of Emeka Ogboh in collaboration with the Museum für Völkerkunde of Dresden in Germany.

“On December 24, 2020 the French Parliament promulgated the law 2020-1673 on the restitution of cultural property to the Republic of Benin and the Republic of Senegal with which, while respecting the promises made on November 23, 2018 by the French President and on November 17, 2019 by the French Prime Minister, a case-by-case approach is however chosen instead of an amendment of the Heritage Code to make definitive restitutions possible and permanent.

“Colonialism Reparation asks the repatriation of the remains and the definitive restitution of the treasures looted by former colonizers (United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, etc.) as a first step in the direction of the Reparation of the damages of colonialism, stopping to hinder an inevitable step of human evolution.”

Colonialism Reparation describes itself as “part of the movement for the condemnation, the reconciliation, the apologies and the compensation for colonialism”.

The organisation “promotes, supports and spreads non-violent activities aimed to create awareness of the current world situation and thereby to encourage the achievement of its objective that the colonizing nations condemn their colonial past recognizing it as a crime against humanity and that the colonized nations exert pressure to make it happen

that the colonizing nations reconcile with their past, permanently distancing themselves from it by officially apologizing the colonized nations that the colonizing nations compensate the colonized nations for the atrocities and abuses committed thus allowing an improvement in their socio-economic conditions”.

Colonialism Reparation holds that “the contribution of every person who recognizes the importance of this activity to the creation of a climate of friendship and cooperation between peoples is necessary and appreciated”.

“This contribution will create an extremely positive precedent in international relations as well, promoting the supremacy of the “force of law” on the “law of force”.”

For further information about Colonialism Reparation, visit: www.colonialismreparation.org

 

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