Since 2016, negotiations between France and Benin have focused on the repatriation of cultural property looted during French colonization. With this in mind, the Beninese authorities had announced that they wanted to create the ideal conditions to receive these objects, and to guarantee their safety.
Benin will benefit from French funding of $ 42 million for cultural projects. This is what the Beninese government announced in a statement released on Friday, June 4.
The financing agreement was signed on Thursday, June 3 between the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Beninese Ministry of Economy and Finance. Composed of a donation and a loan, the funds are intended, among other things, to finance the construction of the Museum of the Epic of the Amazons and the Kings of Danhome.
— Gouvernement du Bénin 🇧🇯 (@gouvbenin) June 4, 2021
This infrastructure is intended to accommodate Beninese cultural heritage assets looted during the colonial period, and whose return has been the subject of negotiations between Cotonou and Paris for several years. Indeed, after an official request for the restitution of these goods, sent in 2016 by the Beninese President Patrice Talon, the French government announced at the beginning of July, a “rapid” restitution of 26 works dating from the time of the former kingdom of Danhomè. In 2018, Emmanuel Macron launched a study mission to study the conditions for returning several works of art to their countries of origin.
“Our eyes are now, and more than ever, turned to the continuation and acceleration of the construction work of the Museum of the Epic of the Amazons and the Kings of Danxomè and the enhancement of the Palatial site of Abomey, which constitutes the final destination of the cultural goods returned by France, after their temporary stay in Ouidah at the Portuguese Fort ”, declared Jean-Michel Abimbola, Beninese Minister of Culture.
It should be noted that the construction of the new museum and the repatriation of cultural property held abroad has been one of the main strategies of the cultural policy of the State of Benin since 2016, included in the government action plan (PAG ). Over the past five years, it had devoted around CFAF 400 billion ($ 738.6 million) to the tourism sector, 45% covered by public funds.
Source: Ecofin Agency / By Moutiou Adjibi Nourou