Benin to the British: Return the artefacts stolen from us in 1897!

Source:  The Nation

December 22 2018

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The Edo State government has intensified call for the return of artefacts stolen from Benin Kingdom by the British colonialists in 1897, with an exhibition of photographs of the prized artworks and their locations in Europe and America. 

benin ivory mask

Unveiling the photographs inside a gallery at the palace of the Benin Monarch, Omo N’ Oba N’ Edo, Uku Akpolokpolo, Oba Ewuare II, in Benin City, at the ongoing Edo Festival of Arts and Culture (EDOFEST), Commissioner for Arts, Culture, Tourism and Diaspora Affairs, Hon. Osazee Osemwegie-Ero, said that the state government would continue to advocate for the return of the stolen artefacts.

He explained that the state government chose the Edo Festival for Arts and Culture (EDOFEST) event to scale up the campaign, in order to reach more people with the message, adding that “the artefacts represent part of the Benin history.”

He noted that the Governor Godwin Obaseki-led administration has made provision for N500 million in the 2019 budget of the state, for the establishment of a Benin Royal Museum in collaboration with the Oba Palace, where the artefacts would be kept on return.

Prof. Greg Akenzua commended the organisers of the photo exhibition, and disclosed that the palace of the Benin Monarch, was working with 13 museums to establish the Benin Royal Museum in the state.He maintained that the call for the return of looted artefacts across the world was gaining traction, citing the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who has promised that his country would return some of the stolen artefacts to their original owners.

“We are working with 13 museums who have agreed to work with us in the establishment of the Royal Museum. We have set a timeline of three years to put the structures on ground,” Prof. Akensua added.

Dr. Lutz Mukke, a German journalist and academic, who took the photographs of the looted Benin artefacts, said the photographs were the result of his journalistic investigation into the looted Benin artefacts at different museums around the world.

He disclosed that up to 90 per cent of the important cultural artefacts were taken away from Africa, and suggested that a “new deal” between Africa and the Western world was needed to fast-track the return of the stolen artefacts.

He maintained the stolen Benin artefacts numbering 4,000 to 6,000 could be found in about 60 Western museums with the biggest collections in the British Museum in London, Ethnographical Collections in Berlin, Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York and Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

He also said that the German government has called on all public museums housing about 1000 looted Benin artefacts to return them.

“The photographs shown in the exhibition are from the museums in Boston and New York in the United States of America; Vienna in Austria; Stockholm in Sweden, Con Berlin, Dresden, Munich and Leipzig in Germany and London, United Kingdom.

“The artefacts are of course priceless as cultural heritage, but that does not mean we should forget their pure money value. The stolen Benin artefacts are estimated to be $1 billion” Mukke said

Africa: Return what was stolen from us! New Museum in Senegal drawing crowds

Source:  TeleSUR
December 26 2018

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

president macky sall cuts ribbon at inauguration of museum

The Museum of Black Civilization is drawing crowds to Dakar, Senegal as hundreds of artifacts return home for a long awaited exhibition.

Nearly 50 years in the making, the four-story museum is displaying centuries of African culture and art stolen during the colonial era.

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“It’s so overwhelming, I don’t really understand it. Some of it’s familiar, some of it’s not, but it definitely grabs you by the gut,” museum visitor, Soucoumb Diallo, told Al Jazeera.

Keeping our culture

A 148,000 square-foot space of African pride filled with intricately carved masks, pottery, glasswork, carvings surrounded by colorful paintings from regional and Caribbean artists recall the continent’s place as the “cradle of humanity.”

kachireme.jpg“Kachireme” by Cuban artist Leandro Soto finds parallels between Nigerian
ancestral spirits and Native American beliefs

“Keeping our cultures is what has saved African people from attempts made at making of them soulless people without a history. And if culture does link people together, it also stimulates progress,” said President Macky Sall who attended the Museum’s opening ceremony

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Although Senegal’s first post-independence president, Leopold Sedar Senghor, (above) first conceived of a museum honoring black civilization almost half a century ago, its long-delayed completion thanks to an investment of US$34m (£27m) from China comes at a critical moment for African art.

Europe must return artifacts stolen in the colonial era

African governments are stepping up pressure on Western museums to return stolen artefacts following a French government report that urged mass restitutions of objects in France’s national museums that were seized during the colonial era.

Hundreds of thousands of artefacts – believed to represent some 90 percent of Africa’s cultural heritage – now populate exhibitions in European museums and private collections.

Besides Senegal, Nigeria and Benin are also opening new museums meant to serve in part as rejoinders to arguments by European museum directors that Africa lacks the facilities to care for the works.

“The Museum of Black Civilizations is part of a generation of museums that Africa is in the process of building … so that the continent and its diaspora … don’t cease defining their history,” said Ernesto Ramirez, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture, at the ceremony in Dakar.

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Belgium: A Museum Full of Stolen African Relics to Re-open

TeleSUR English

A museum full of stolen African relics is re-opening in Belgium.

Known for its reputation as a colonialist holdover, the former Royal Museum of Central Africa will open its doors again amid a renewed European debate about the return of stolen artifacts.

The Belgium colonies in Africa were run as a private royal estate by Leopold II who personally enriched himself.through the forced labor of the Congolese during a period in which an estimated half of the local population of 10 million people were wiped out by overwork, violence and disease.

Treasure looted from the continent have been repackaged by the museum in an attempt to retell the story of Belgium’s brutal past with its multicultural future in mind.

Many European collections are full of art objects dubbed “colonial” but often acquired by questionable means.

Over 90% of sub-Saharan Africa cultural assets reside outside of their own continent after having been stolen in the colonial era.

Senegal opens the world’s largest museum of black civilisations with China’s help

December 03 2018

museum of black civilisation senegal.gifMuseum of Black Civilizations in Senegal —

After 52 years of waiting, Senegal is set to open what has been described as the largest museum of black civilization ever on December 6 in the capital, Dakar.

Spread over an area of 14,000 square meters with a capacity of 18,000 pieces of art, the Museum of Black Civilizations, which will be used for the conservation of cultural values of the black people and for the presentation of Africa to the world, was built thanks to a donation from China amounting to $34.6 million, according to officials.

Senegal’s late president Leopold Sedar Senghor was the first to propose the idea of a museum about the civilisations of black Africa during a world festival of black artists in Dakar in 1966.


In December 2011, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade laid the foundation stone in the capital Dakar but works were suspended during a political change until the subsequent leader, Macky Sall set the project rolling between December 2013 and December 2015.

“This building, just like all others within the Cultural Park will not be considered as a Senegalese monument, but an African monument,” Wade said when the first stone was laid.

Finally, the doors of the museum will be opened with an exhibition on the theme “African civilizations: continuous creation of humanity”.

“On two levels, visitors will travel from the Neolithic to the multiplicity of African cultures, through the Iron Age, to understand the contributions of Africa to the scientific and technical heritage. The director of the museum boasts a modern scenography, with the latest technologies, to dialogue paintings, sculptures, masks and some masterpieces, as a piece of one of the major figures of the plastic arts of Mali, Abdoulaye Konaté, and a monumental baobab of 112 meters high made by a Haitian representative of the diaspora,” a report by News Africa said.

museum of black civilisation senegal 2.jpgMuseum of Black Civilizations — Twitter

Essentially, the museum features vestiges of the first hominids who appeared in Africa several million years ago to the latest contemporary art in collections of paintings and sculpture.

“This museum will not look like any other, because it will not be a museum of sub-Saharan Africa,” said Hamady Bocoum, the director of the museum, adding that the pan-African project “will be proof that the African man is well in history.”

Since the museum could contain works owned by France since colonization, Senegal’s culture minister has called for the restitution by France of all Senegalese artwork on the back of a French report urging the return of African art treasures.

According to Abdou Latif Coulibaly, the country was ready to work with France to find an amicable solution, adding that “If you have 10,000 pieces (of art identified from Senegal), we want to have the 10,000.”

Apart from suffering from the negative consequences of colonialism, Africans have had to negotiate for the return of valuable historical cultural artefacts that were smuggled out of their countries.

These priceless monuments, which symbolize African identity are currently scattered across the world, with an impressive number in British and French Museums.

Many African countries have called for the return of these treasures but are yet to receive any positive response from these western countries, which are making huge sums of money from these objects, with some even insisting that they were obtained legally.

French President Emmanuel Macron recently announced that his country will return 26 artefacts taken from Benin in 1892. The thrones and statues, currently on display at the Quai Branly museum in Paris, were taken during a colonial war against the then Kingdom of Dahomey.

Afro-American Artists Present Works in Cuba: A Question of Love

ben jonesBen Jones meets Cuba and not with the epidermal curiosity of a visitor’s pass. Rather, he has been a consistent scholar of the culture of the island and of the African diaspora which in the insular space assumes its own face. He has not stopped in the structures of colonial architecture, the grandiose epic or the landscapes of sun, exported to the world. For him, it leaves the unmistakable sound of the Yoruba ritual, the voices, the aesthetic plying the river of the Afro-Cuban. Somehow – he confesses – I feel part of this country and its energies, its culture and its history. More than 60 trips to Havana confirms it.

The syncretic tradition that breathes the streets makes it back in an effort to absorb every essence that can then transform into art. Thus arose the Changó Drawings (1994) series where questioning the codes from which black masculinity is defined.

“The link that the artists from both countries are establishing is very strong and I hope our work will help to bring our peoples together increasingly because we are not so different, especially in the recognition of that footprint of Africa that was planted in us. In the United States there are many conscious creators, like me, of the force that has the black culture on the island. That is why we come to drink from it, of its referents”, assures American painter, sculptor and the curator Ben Jones, a few days before the inauguration in Havana of “Abstraction and the African-American artists”, an exhibition that will be on display from August 1 in the building of Universal art, the National Museum of fine arts (MNBA).

 Road map New York – Havana

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US Art Collector Dedicates Exhibit to the Cuban Five

July 18. 2014

Source:  Cuban News Agency

Brownstone support the FiveA visual arts collection entitled “My Love for Arts, My Love for Cuba,” was inaugurated on Thursday in Havana as a donation by US collector Gilbert Brownstone in tribute to the five Cuban anti-terrorist fighters, who were arrested in 1998 in the United States.

The Five represent social justice for Cuba and the world; they have been deprived of their freedom because they fought terrorism in the entrails of the monster,” said Brownstone as he recalled a statement by Cuban National Hero Jose Marti about his exile in the United States which said “I have lived in the monster and I have known its entrails.”

In the presence of Rene Gonzalez and Fernando Gonzalez, the only two of the five men who have returned to Cuba after they served their unfair sentences in US jails, the collector said that he was privileged to have met the relatives of the Cuban anti-terrorist fighters.

The remaining three: Gerardo Hernandez, Ramon Labañino and Antonio Guerrero are still held in US prisons despite a  huge international campaign for their release.

During the inauguration of the exhibit at the Jose Marti Memorial, the president of the National Council of Visual Arts, Ruben del Valle, said that the collection of so many works of art will be displayed until August 17.

The collection includes works by Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Richard Lindner, Andre Masson and other outstanding artists, which Gilbert donated to Cuba.

In September 2011 Brownstone visited Gerardo in the Victorville maximum security prison in California, to offer his support and solidarity.  Below is a report of this visit.

Gilbert Brownstone visits Gerardo in prison, says he exudes strength Continue reading

Visually Impaired Children in Havana Hold Their First Artistic Festival

visually impaired children in cubaThe first artistic and literary festival of visually impaired children residing in Havana was held Sunday in a downtown movie theater and it was dedicated to the 7th Congress of the National Association for the Blind (ANSI), to take place in November.

The festival was joined by children’s artistic collectives in different performing arts modalities in what was considered an action of social inclusion, which is the priority of the blind association.

ANCI director in Havana Barbara Ajete told reporters that the festival constitutes an Continue reading

Events for the Cuban Five in New York, Chicago, San Francisco

Five Heroes - March 29 2013 flyerThe US National Committee to Free the Cuban Five has announced a series of support activities for the Five Cuban heroes to take place in New York City, Chicago and San Francisco in the next two weeks.

These include

  •  March 29, a panel discussion will take place at Columbia University
  • March 29, an exhibition of Tony Guerrero’s butterfly paintings will open in San Francisco, featuring poetry, music, and food, along with the artwork
  • April 11, 7 pm:  FILM ‘Cuba, an African Odyssey’ (award-winning documentary of Cuba’s central role in

Full details of these and other events can be found on the Committee’s online calendar