Benin restores slavery monuments to testify to brutal past
14 August 2020 | 11:11 am
As Western cities see statues of slaveholders and colonialists toppled, Benin's coastal town of Ouidah is going the other way, by restoring monuments from the slave trade era. During the 17th and 18th centuries, European slavers held more than one million African men, women and children in Ouidah's Portuguese Fort before shipping them across the Atlantic in abominable conditions.
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A resolution is imminent in the dispute over more than 1,000 bronzes stolen from the former Kingdom of Benin. Germany wants to return all the objects to Nigeria.
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Nigerians celebrated the homecoming of Benin bronzes pillaged during the colonial era. It comes as African leaders are pushing for the restitution of the artifacts from Europe.
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In Benin, artefacts that were looted by French forces during the 19th century and formally returned to their homeland last year are about to go on display. The objects include sculptures, masks and small pieces of furniture for ceremonial uses. FRANCE 24's Georja Calvin-Smith reports from the capital Cotonou. Also, French lawmakers pave the way for artworks stolen by the Nazis and currently on display in French museums to be returned to their rightful heirs.
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After a 130 years away, 26 stolen artefacts from Benin are finally being displayed at home after having been returned by France.The pieces were looted by soldiers from the kingdom of Dahomey in 1892 and are now taking pride of place at the presidential palace.
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After years of discussion and agitation, Germany has agreed to return looted African colonial artefacts, including over 1,000 Benin Bronzes that will be repatriated to Nigeria.
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Northern Benin is at the center of a security crisis which has moved south from the Sahel. Poverty and climate change have provided fertile ground for criminals and extremists.
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France aims to "respond positively" to requests from Benin and other countries for air support and intelligence to combat Islamist militants, a French official said on Wednesday, as French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in the West African state.
Over 500 pieces will be returned under the deal. The artifacts were looted by British soldiers in the 1800s and sold all over Europe.
The new digital platform catalogs objects that were stolen from Benin Kingdom during the colonial era: Over 5,000 items across in 20 countries have been identified.
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