"The Thorny Question of the Restitution of African Art"

“Barely a year ago, that is on November 28, 2017 … President Macron addressed students of the University of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, saying :” I want the conditions to be met within five years for temporary or definitive restitution of African heritage to Africa”.


The French president has decided to keep his promise to immediately restore 26 works of arts claimed by Benin, all spoils of the 1892 Franco-Dahomean war. A decision that follows the conclusions of the report on the restitution of African heritage commissioned by Emmanuel Macron to two historians.

A decision that follows the conclusions of the Report on the Restitution of African Heritage given to Emmanuel Macron on 23 November. The latter advocates a generalized, progressive and unconditional return to the African states that would request, objects looted during the colonial period : that is 46,000 objects held in public collections.

Even before being made public, the document was repealed by some critics who dread to see French museums suddenly emptied of their collections.

But for Marie-Cécile Zinsou, president of the Zinsou artistic foundation in Cotonou, Benin, this is more than just recovering: quote and unquote “some masks and a throne”, the issue is really about African countries reclaiming their dignity and a part of their history erased by colonization.”