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Bénédicte Savoy: Europe must return the cultural heritage of Africa


Brief overview of an interview with Bénédicte Savoy - a French modern art history professor and expert on looted colonial works of art, held by Wolfram Eilenberger.

Bénédicte Savoy
Foto: Bénédicte Savoy
Source: Wikipedia

Around 90% of valuable African cultural artifacts are located outside of Africa, most of them in Europe. In France, over 46,000 items can be returned to their historical origin and all of them arrived in France in the colonial period between 1885 and 1960. Throughout all of Europe, there may be several hundred thousand objects like this. However, some experts say that not all items were pillaged as a lot of them were acquired legally.

African countries, which started gaining independence in the 1960s, insist on the return of only some of the more signficant items for each country. No one is demanding the return of absolutely all artworks.

Three main objections are usually given against restitution:

  • If we give up these items, our museum will be left empty.
  • We do not know for certain who they should be returned to. The government? The families of former owners?
  • There are no museums in Africa.

"None of this is based in reality", says Bénédicte Savoy.

Source: Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen

Evgeniy Saunin, 18 October 2020, 23:55

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