[by:www.Tingvoa.com - VOA英语网]


[00:00.10]In 2006, a private museum in the African country

[00:05.75]of Benin presented artifacts from the ancient Dahomey kingdom.

[00:13.50]Almost 250,000 people came to see them.

[00:16.50]But even though the pieces are part of the country's history, they did not belong to Benin.

[00:23.65]They were on loan from France, which colonized and ruled the country for over 60 years.

[00:32.24]Now, France has promised to give Benin back 26 artifacts taken by the French army in 1892.

[00:42.80]This may prove a major change for other African countries asking for their art to be returned.

[00:51.28]Marie-Cecile Zinsou is French-Beninese.

[00:56.29]She is among Africa's strongest supporters of returning African art

[01:03.64]that has been taken.

[01:04.50]Her Zinsou Foundation hosted the Dahomey exhibit in 2006.

[01:11.70]She told VOA she believes if Benin succeeds in showing its cultural history,

[01:19.46]major changes will be possible.

[01:22.46]"Then you'll have a real example of how African countries

[01:28.29]are getting their heritage back and showing it to the public.

[01:32.02]Then people will believe," said Zinsou.

[01:37.59]Up to 90 percent of African artifacts are located outside the continent.

[01:45.27]That includes in France,

[01:46.96]where an estimated 90,000 African artifacts are housed in French museums.

[01:54.05]Most are in the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum in Paris.

[02:00.38]But some recent events show change may be coming.

[02:06.62]Last year, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to temporarily

[02:13.37] or permanently return artifacts to the continent within five years.

[02:20.11]And in November, two researchers delivered a report asked for by Macron.

[02:26.86]It recommended France permanently return objects taken through "theft,

[02:33.93]looting, despoilment, trickery and forced consent."

[02:39.93]Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr and French historian Bénédicte Savoy wrote the report.

[02:48.39]In it they noted that 60 percent of the population of the African continent

[02:55.00] is under the age of 20.

[02:56.64]Young people should be able to enjoy and learn about “their own culture,

[03:02.80] creativity and spirituality from other eras," they wrote.

[03:08.36]The report has had an effect.

[03:12.13]In December, the United Nations General

[03:16.33]Assembly put a resolution in place supporting returning objects to their home countries.

[03:22.64]The British Museum has also promised to return priceless metal artifacts to Nigeria.

[03:30.48]And Germany is helping Kenya find its valuable stolen artifacts

[03:36.99] that ended up in western museums, including German ones.

[03:43.48]Some experts are not so sure about the moves.

[03:46.22]"We know the shortage in African museums" of quality conservation,

[03:52.64]art expert Alexandre Giguello told Agence France-Presse news agency.

[03:59.65]France's culture minister supports loaning artifacts to Africa rather than permanent returns.

[04:07.14]Quai Branly Museum head Stephane Martin described the report

[04:13.58] on returning art as a bad answer.

[04:16.64]He told Le Figaro newspaper there were other ways to support cultural exchange with Africa.

[04:24.22]Meanwhile, new museums are either being built or planned to be built across Africa.

[04:31.86]Supporters say the new museums disprove the arguments

[04:38.55] that the continent cannot properly house its heritage.

[04:40.70]Returning art to places whose borders have changed over the years

[04:47.14]presents still other problems.

[04:48.61]Charline Kopf is a doctoral researcher at the University of Oslo.

[04:55.15]She noted that current claims for the return of artifacts

[05:01.52]are being made by a number of African nations.

[05:03.68]But sometimes such claims are also made by indigenous communities

[05:10.42] who do not accept some border divisions.

[05:16.00]Robert Jonard sells African artifacts in Paris.

[05:19.11]He says smaller dealers like himself are not worried they may

[05:25.48] lose ownership of their most valued pieces.

[05:27.96]"It's mostly a discussion at a higher level, among leading

[05:34.08] experts and museum heads," he says.

[05:37.38]Instead, Jonard is worried about returning valuable artifacts

[05:43.58]to places where they risk being stolen or badly cared for.

[05:49.31]"Consider what might happen to French museums

[05:52.36] if all the art Napoleon plundered in Italy was sent home?" Jonard adds.

[05:58.98]"What will remain in the world's museums if each country asks for its art back?"

[06:06.22]I'm Kelly Jean Kelly.

[06:07.79]And I'm Pete Musto.


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