Slowly but Surely, Africa’s Plundered Artifacts Are Coming Home

French President Emmanuel Macron looks at Beninese art during a ceremony for the return of 26 works to Benin, with Benin Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, at the Quai Branly Museum-Jacques Chirac, Paris, October 27, 2021 (Sipa via AP Images).
French President Emmanuel Macron looks at Beninese art during a ceremony for the return of 26 works to Benin, with Benin Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot-Narquin, at the Quai Branly Museum-Jacques Chirac, Paris, October 27, 2021 (Sipa via AP Images).
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COTONOU, Benin—During a February press conference announcing a new exhibition of newly repatriated treasures, Jean-Michel Abimbola, Benin’s minister of culture, was asked by a British journalist to address the common claim that European museums are better able to care for African artifacts than African ones. He responded curtly. “I'm not sure we can continue to support this argument vis-à-vis Benin,” Abimbola said. “This will amount to asking whether Black people have souls, and I would not like to answer this question.” His statement was a strong one and underscored the importance of the new exhibition, titled “Benin Art from Yesterday […]

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