While he was invited by the French President, Emmanuel Macron for the finalization of the process of restitution of 26 arts of treasures looted in his country during colonization, the Head of State of Benin Patrice Talon, although he expressed his “Gratitude” to France, did not hide his displeasure with the small amount of arts returned.
Indeed, President Emmanuel Macron had promised in 2017 to make restitutions of African heritage in France.
It is with this in mind that the President of the Republic of Benin was invited on Tuesday to Paris for the signing of the deed of transfer of property and the handing over to the Beninese authorities, 26 works looted by the troops of Colonel Dodds in 1892 in the Royal Treasures of Abomey.
Unsatisfied Patrice Talon
In his speech following that of his host, Talon did not hesitate to be offensive to say the least, while being careful to maintain a diplomatic twist when addressing his French counterpart.
The Beninese leader regretted his dissatisfaction with this “yet appreciable” act of the French authorities.
“It is unfortunate that this act… is not such as to give us complete satisfaction. How can you expect that when I left here, with the 26 arts, my enthusiasm was total, while the god Gou, an emblematic work, representing the god of metals and forges, that the tablet of the Fa, a mythical work, and still many others, continue to be detained here, in France, to the chagrin of their beneficiaries? », Said Patrice Talon, while smiling.
After evoking a hope of returning to Paris for the rest of the restitutions, the African leader had to express himself in a funny way to make those around him smile, asking Macron in English to shake his hand: “Take five”
In the process, Talon corrected remarks, according to which these objects were “cultural goods”: “it is much more than that, it is our soul”, he hammered.
And to add: “The emotion that embraces me this morning is devastating because I hoped for it, I despaired, I hung on, I prayed to all the gods, all our ancestors so that you may be well inspired and they did it ”.
Below is the full statements of the two presidents: