March 22, 2023

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The Kwai Branley Museum bids farewell to Benin’s works of art


After years of controversy, Emmanuel Macron’s promise to return to Benin 26 works of art plundered by French colonial troops is to be kept. The French president is expected to attend the ceremony on Wednesday at the Guai Branley Museum. These pieces were last exhibited in Paris for 130 years in France and will eventually return to their home country.

Piphane-Basile Migan can no longer be as quiet as waiting for this moment. Visitors come around the last exhibited art objects in France. At the Kwai Branley Museum, Before they boarded the plane Harmless November.

Before him, the royal statue of “Boccio”, half-man, half-shark, the king of Behans, the last king of Abom, captured by the French in 1894 and forcibly deported to Martinique. The 26 works in the exhibition are part of this sovereign treasure, taken by General Dots, who ruled the kingdom of Tahomi (now Benin) in 1892 during the French colonial conquest. The world. , The invaluable value “, says Epiphany-Basil Mikan over and over again, as if not to miss a single piece of the statue of King Behansin before it was photographed from all angles.” We did things like that in the 19th century. There was a great culture in Africa. No civilization in the world has ever done that. “

Epiphane-Basile Migan Celebrated 26 Benigns at the Quai Franley Museum in Paris on October 26, before leaving for Penin for the first time. © France24

The Benign doctor, who has lived in Paris for 24 years, says he has not yet had the opportunity to return to Benin on November 10 to see the pieces. Some of them, especially from anthropological sculptures depicting the kings of Abom Promise to return to Ouagadougou in 2017 by Emmanuel Macron, A prominent site in the Kwai Branley Museum, dominates the museum’s collection platform.

Knowing the historical dimension of this moment – one of the first restorations of objects looted by France during the colonial wars – Epiphany-Basil Migan will return this week to show the “greatness of the kingdom of Abomi”. Children. He will go back to work in Benin on his next trip.

“It’s not a goodbye, it’s a goodbye”

In a few months, these objects, which have a very strong historical, symbolic and protective value for the people of Beninis, will be on display at the Presidential Palace of the Republic of Benin in Otto, Cotonou in 2022, before joining in the future. In 2024 the museum, D’Abomi, its works are not yet complete.

“It’s not a farewell, it’s a goodbye,” says Gaëlle Beaujon, African collection manager at the Quai Franley Museum. The joint committees of the Persian Museum and the Phoenician curators of Oita and Abomi worked hand in hand to refine these products and to handle these works more meticulously.

“Looking at these well-preserved items, I’ll be back to you soon,” said Abdule Imoro, overseer of the site of Abomi’s royal palaces. When setting up the exhibition. Needless to say the wait was long. Benin made an official request in 2016 to withdraw these assignments. After years of controversy, the French parliament will only vote in 2020. The law authorizing France to return these spoils of war.

The return process is explained to the viewer

The exhibition shows the whole process, especially through the chronological chronology. The future of the works in Benin occupies an important place in the scenery, which, through a video, triggers the conditions for the plundering of the Abomi treasure, at least as far as we know. “Even today, we do not know how these objects – some large ones – were moved. We have some records of what happened, and we tried to find history through letters, military testimonies …”, explains Gayle Fugen.

He says the French government never heard of looting in the war for this conflict. But the practice was in practice at the time, “perhaps at the initiative of the authorities, or with the approval of General Dots, though,” the expert continues to lament that some parts of this treasure have evaporated in nature.

This scientific research aimed at determining the source and history of the pieces is not a detail, as France can only return a work of art to the country that demands it if these studies show that the work has been stolen, looted or seized. Calixte Biah, overseer of the Ouidah Historical Museum, who will deliver 26 pieces in 2022, said “it would be polite for other countries holding African pieces to follow in France’s footsteps”.

According to some experts, nearly 90% of African heritage is still found outside the continent today.

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