Two years. This is the time limit requested by the Republic of Benin to be able to accommodate the twenty-six works of art stolen by the French general Alfred Dodds in 1892. The african country, surprised by this announcement sudden restitution by France, considers that it is not willing to keep these works from the palace of the kings of Dahomey, in Abomey, in the right conditions.

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On 4 July, the minister of Culture, Franck Riester announced the return of “fast” of these objects, without even waiting for the entry of the restitution in the law. “They must be able to be seen, admired, and studied in Benin,” said the minister, referring to the possibility of “a show dedicated to the diversity, complexity and aesthetic richness of these works”.

“To the French proposal, our response is “patience, keep still a few time that we’re really ready”,” said José Pliya, director of the national Agency for the promotion of Heritage and Tourism (ANPT) of benin. According to him, “the president Macron has taken a little bit of all of the world of short in announcing the restitution without delay of 26 objects” during his trip to Ouagadougou in November 2017.

“We really want to do things”

The Benin was, however, praised the “courage” of France and not historical. “We take the gift and welcomes the move” reaffirms Mr. Pliya. But “this return is so strong, he really wants to make things right.”

The country, which has listed tourism as one of its main pillars of economic development, wants to host the works in optimum conditions. Unesco has just given the green light to the construction of a new museum within the precincts of the palace of Abomey, the old capital of Dahomey.

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“The work will begin in the fourth quarter of this year, and the duration of the works shall be two years. So, for us, the return of these objects (is planned) for the inauguration of this museum in the fall of 2021,” says the director of the ANPT.

Keen “to open a new page” in the tumultuous history between France and Africa, the president and Emmanuel Macron does not hide his impatience to show tangible signs of this renewal. “Patrice Talon, the president of benin, has already won by having obtained the agreement of France,” says an actor in the negotiations. But “for Emmanuel Macron, he must really have something here a year.”

Because in less than a year, in may 2020, which must begin “Africa 2020”, the Season of african cultures in France, a great event was announced by the French president during his speech to Ouagadougou.