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

Source:  The Nation

December 22 2018

edofest benin.jpeg

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.

museum of black civilization 4.jpg

“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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

museum of black civilization 5

The Bolton Speech on Africa: A Case of the Wolf and the Foxes

Source: Black Agenda Report
December 19 2018

Ajamu Baraka, BAR editor and columnist

The Bolton Speech on Africa: A Case of the Wolf and the Foxes

The Trump administration claims China and Russia are exploiting Africa, but US policy offers nothing but more guns, more bases and more subversion.

“Economic relations with China provides African states a modicum of spaceto exercise more effective national sovereignty than had ever been afforded them by the European colonial powers.”

malcolm x 3cMalcolm X reminded us that we had to be careful about the difference between the wolf and the fox. The wolf for black people were the hardcore, racist white folks with the hoods and clearly articulated stance in support of white supremacy. The fox, on the other hand were the liberals who were supposed to be our friends. Their ultimate support for white supremacy was always just as deadly but sugarcoated in diversionary language like “humanitarian intervention” and the “responsibility to protect.” The game, according to Malcolm, was that black folks would recognize the danger of the wolf and run from the wolf straight into the jaws of the fox with the consequence being just as fatal because both the fox and the wolf are members of the same canine family.

This captures in many ways not only the nature of the ongoing saga of U.S. politics in general where there is really no substantial difference in the class interests and fundamental priorities of the two capitalist parties, but specific policies like U.S. policy in Africa.

“In Bolton’s world, the real threat to African states were the “predatory” Chinese and, for whatever reasons he threw in the Russians.”

In a speech last week before an audience at the right-wing Heritage Foundation, John Bolton unveiled the Trump administrations’ “new Africa Strategy .” In what could only be characterized as another example of the White supremacist racial blind-spot, Bolton revealed an understanding of Africa and the role played by the U.S. and Europe that was a compete departure from the reality of the systematic underdevelopment of that continent by Europe and the U.S.

In Bolton’s world, the predatory powers in Africa were not the European powers that raided the continent for black bodies to create the wealth of Europe and then carved up a weakened and devastated Africa among those same powers in 1884. It wasn’t the U.S. that murdered African leaders, overthrew African states and imposed brutal neocolonial leaders. No, the real threat to African states were the “predatory” Chinese and, for whatever reasons he threw in the Russians, that, according to Bolton “stunt economic growth in Africa and…threaten financial independence of African nations.”

Therefore, in typical colonialist arrogance in which Bolton’s analysis represents objective truth, he states that African states have a choice. Either surrender to Chinese and Russia interests, or aligned themselves with the U.S. to secure “foreign aid” and avoid subversion from the U.S.!

“There is really no substantial difference in the two capitalist parties’ policies in Africa.”

Of course, there is a different position, a reading of African history from the point of view of the African. From that perspective, it was the predatory practices of European and U.S. imperialist policies that reduced Africa to its present situation as the richest continent on the planet in terms of natural resources, land and people — to a balkanized continent of 54 nations, economically disarticulated, politically fragmented and still suffering the cultural effects of alien colonial cultural imposition.

Whatever the national intentions of China or Russia may have in Africa, only the most jaded or confused could fail to conclude that economic relations with these states and in particular with China provides African states a modicum of space to exercise more effective national sovereignty than had ever been afforded them by the European colonial powers that craved up and unmercifully exploited African labor and land.

But that is the point and the intent of U.S. Africa policy over the last 73 years since the end of the second imperialist war in 1945.

“It was the predatory practices of European and U.S. imperialist policies that reduced Africa to its present situation.”

Bolton and the racist policy-makers in Washington don’t want to see Africa nations with any space to act independently of the dependence imposed on them by predatory trade regimes, the world Bank and International Monetary Fund debt peonage.

While China provides investment in African infrastructure and production capacities, the U.S. offers Africa militarism and subversion from Libya to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Bolton didn’t mention in his statement that U.S. strategy for Africa which centers military recolonization would be a continuation of the U.S. policies of the last few decades and in particularly during the Obama administration that saw the expansion of the U.S. military presence by 1,900 %.

It is clear that the Trump “strategy” offers nothing substantially different. The policy continues to be more guns, more bases and more subversion.

“The U.S. offers Africa militarism and subversion from Libya to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

The destruction of Libya that resulted in the enhanced military capacities of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram in Nigeria, Ansar al-Sharia in Libya, the disastrous decision to carve up the Sudan and create yet another colonial entity called South Sudan, military and political support for PresidentKagame of Rwanda, President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Museveni of Uganda and expansion of AFRICOM reflects the murderous continuity of U.S. African policy.

When Bolton claims that in order to assist with African economic development it is “developing a new initiative called “Prosper Africa,” which will support U.S. investment across the continent, grow Africa’s middle class, and improve the overall business climate in the region.”

This approach is not in any way a departure from the Bush-Obama “African Growth and Opportunity Act, ” which made similar claims and focused on extractive trade policies to exploit African natural resources and served as basis of continued conflict over those resources in nations like the Democratic Republic of the Congo where more than six million Africans have died in resource based conflicts.

The psychopathology of the white supremacist colonialist mind that renders it unable to cognitively apprehend objective reality.”

Bolton’s claim that it is Russia and China that “stunt economic growth in Africa, and “threaten financial independence of African nations, “represents another example of either cynicism or the psychopathology of the white supremacist colonialist mind that renders it unable to cognitively apprehend objective reality.

Therefore, Bolton’s speech and Trump administration policy was not so much a new strategy but a cruder reaffirmation of a political stance on Africa that has always put U.S. interests first, absent the flowery language and liberal pretentions of Obama’s Cairo speech earlier in his administration . From Obama’s “exceptional nation” to Trumps’ “Make American Great Again,” it has always been about putting the interest of U.S. imperialism first.

The people of Africa must not allow the African continent to be drawn into competing blocs during last death thrones of a dying neoliberal capitalist world system.

We say to Bolton, Trump and the neoliberal democrats – U.S. out of Africa, Shut down AFRICOM, Africa for Africans at home and abroad!

“The U.S. and Europe have nothing to offer for the new world that must be built.”

Our radical imaginations can conceive of a world in which the choice is beyond the wolf and the fox. We are on the side of the majority, the majority of the world that is suffering the structural violence of global neoliberal capitalist/imperialist system. But Africans in the U.S. must make a choice. Malcolm said you cannot sit at the table and not have any food in front of you and call yourself a diner. Africans in the U.S. have been sitting at the table of U.S. citizenship and calling themselves “Americans” while our people are murdered, confined to cages in prisons, die giving birth to our children, die disproportionately before the age of five, live in poverty, are disrespected and dehumanized. A choice must be made, do you throw in with this dying system or do you align with the working class and oppressed peoples of the world.

The people of the global South are clear. They can make intelligent distinctions between friends and enemies, between their national interests and the national interests of other nations and where those interest might converge, if only temporarily. But the one thing that is also clear is that the U.S. and Europe have nothing to offer for the new world that must be built. In fact, when Europe and the U.S. are reduced in power and influence globally, it will be one of the most important events for collective humanity in the last thousand years.

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. His latest publications include contributions to“Jackson Rising: The Struggle for Economic Democracy and Self-Determination in Jackson, Mississippi. He can be reached at: Ajamubaraka.com

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.

South Africa: Malema wants language to unite Africans as kiSwahili gets dept’s nod

Source:  IOL
19 September 2018,

by Khanyisile Ngcobo

julius malema 4

EFF leader Julius Malema addresses members of the media at a press
conference in Braamfontein. Picture: Itumeleng English/African
News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg – Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says Africa needed one language uniting it if it is to be an equal competitor with the West.

Malema said this in reaction to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga’s announcement that kiSwahili will be included as an optional second additional language to be offered in South African schools.

“We managed to get the Council of Education Ministers (CEM) to approve the listing of kiSwahili as an optional second addition language to be offered to different learners. We currently have 15 non-official languages in the National Curriculum Statement, which will include your French, German, Mandarin,” Jacaranda FM quoted Motshekga as saying.

KiSwahili is the first African language to be included in the list.

She added that, unlike the other languages included in the list, kiSwahili did not have the support of its mother country and instead would be supported by the department.

Motshekga explained the significance of having kiSwahili included in the list, saying it was important because it was broadly spoken across the continent.

Malema, speaking at an EFF briefing, lauded the inclusion of kiSwahili as among the first steps needed towards decolonisation.

Decolonising Africa starts with simple things… it starts with doing away with colonial symbols and colonial ways of doing things. We must, and even if it’s not our generation, generations to come must have a language that unites Africans like kiSwahili.

“KiSwahili can be developed and become a continental language and we do away with speaking to each other in English.”

KiSwahili will be implemented from 2020.

South Africa: First step to land expropriation without compensation

Source:  Mail Guardian
February 27 2018

south africa national assembly.jpgThe EFF’s motion calls for the establishment of a parliamentary ad hoc committee that will review and amend section 25 of the Constitution (David Harrison/M&G

The National Assembly has just voted in favour of beginning a process so that the Constitution can be amended to allow land expropriation without compensation.

On Tuesday, 324 of 400 MPs sat in the National Assembly to vote on the motion that was brought by the Economic Freedom Fighters.

241 MPs voted in favour of the motion, while 83 voted against it. There were no abstentions.

 The EFF’s motion, which was led by Julius Malema, calls for the establishment of a parliamentary ad hoc committee that will review and amend section 25 of the Constitution after hearing public submissions from policy makers, academics, civil society and the public.

The ANC, Inkatha Freedom Party, and the National Freedom Party voiced their support for the motion.

READ MORE: The last people stand alone in the face of platinum’s bulldozers

The ANC said it also wanted include amendments that would protect agriculture and food security, which the EFF found amiable.

But the Democratic Alliance and the Freedom Front Plus voted against the motion. The DA said that a proposal to expropriate land without compensation “undermines” property rights.

Congress of the People leader Terror Lekota also ignited controversy in the House after saying that colonisers did not steal land from black people, because the Khoisan entered into an agreement with settlers for their land to be taken.

READ MORE: The bones echo the cry for the return of ancestral land

The sitting at the National Assembly on Tuesday saw fierce debate among MPs, but once the ANC agreed to support the EFF’s motion “unequivocally”, it became clear that the red berets’ proposal would win the majority.

A Constitution Review Committee will review section 25 of the Constitution and has been set a deadline to report back to the National Assembly by August 30.

South Africa’s President Ramaphosa to Settle Land Issue ‘Once and for All’

Source:  TeleSUR
March 1 2018

Cyril Ramaphosa south africa.jpg

“This original sin that was committed when our country was colonized must be resolved,” said newly-elected South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Newly-elected South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he welcomes discussions about the issue of land expropriations to prevent widespread, public alarm. However, he reiterated that his government intends to, “once and for all,” settle racial disparities in property ownership.

RELATED:   Who’s Afraid to Celebrate Robert Mugabe Day?

Taking a lesson from their northeastern neighbor, Zimbabwe, Ramaphosa has vowed to follow through with his own land reform program, expropriating land held by the descendants of European colonialists and transferring it to the majority Black populace.

“Soon enough I will initiate a dialogue with key stakeholders… There is no need for any one of us to panic and start beating war drums,” Ramaphosa said in parliament, according to Reuters. “We are going to address this and make sure that we come up with resolutions that resolve this once and for all. This original sin that was committed when our country was colonized must be resolved in a way that will take South Africa forward.”

However, AfriForum, a civil rights group representing mostly white South Africans, stated that it would launch an international campaign to inform governments and foreign investors “that property rights in South Africa are being threatened.”

On Tuesday, South Africa‘s parliament passed a motion brought by the Economic Freedom Fighters, or EFF, to carry out land expropriation without compensation, a pillar of the ruling African National Congress’, or ANC, political platform.

The ANC has long promised to redress disparities in land ownership as the matter remains a pressing issue throughout the country.

Two decades after the end of apartheid and celebrations marking Nelson Mandela‘s release from prison, white estate proprietors continue to occupy the overwhelming majority of South Africa’s land.