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In Burkina Faso, French President Macron Addresses Restitution Of African Heritage From Museums

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the Ouagadougou University on November 28, 2017. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images.

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the Ouagadougou University on November 28, 2017. Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images.

In a speech delivered on a visit to the West African republic of Burkina Faso, French president Emmanuel Macron has promised to make the restitution of French-owned African heritage a priority over the next five years.  Saying that he wants “the conditions to be met for the temporary or permanent restitution of African heritage to Africa”, Macron also spoke to the audience of about 800 students at the University of Ouagadougou about his desire to promote the mobility of talented people between Europe and Africa.

Notably, Macron's comments are at odds with a formal request made in March 2017 to then French President François Hollande, writes artnet News. Lawmakers and civil society groups from Benin wrote an open letter asking for the return of a host of "colonial treasures" 

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs formally rejected the request, stating emphatically that the art treasures belong to the French State. Although Emmanuel Macron did not address the return of Benin’s claimed heritage, the Ouagadougou speech has revived hopes that the state might reconsider its position. 

An 18th-century royal triad in ivory from Benin, South of Nigeria, displayed at a 2007 exhibition at the Quai Branly museum in Paris. Photo courtesy OLIVIER LABAN-MATTEI/AFP/Getty Images.

An 18th-century royal triad in ivory from Benin, South of Nigeria, displayed at a 2007 exhibition at the Quai Branly museum in Paris. Photo courtesy OLIVIER LABAN-MATTEI/AFP/Getty Images.