Macron signs-over artworks confiscated from ex-colony Benin

Benin's President Patrice Talon put his signature to an agreement on Tuesday to take back from France over twenty artworks which were 'stolen' from the former French colony of Benin in the 19th century, and expressed the wish that it would pave the way for more cultural treasures to be given back. To the art world this is a welcome and moral step. Vive Le France! But museums like the British Museum are opposed to such moves citing reasons of safety.

The artworks were taken in 1892 from Benin's Palaces of Abomey and have been on display in Paris, alongside hundreds of other works taken from the Africa continent during colonial rule.

They will now be given back, but they are only some of the thousands of works whose return President Talon is seeking.

"You'll agree with me that the restitution of 26 artworks we are celebrating today is only a step in the ambitious process of equity and restitution!" Talon said, speaking to French President Emmanuel Macron after a signing ceremony at the Elysee Palace.

The handover marks an important milestone in the battle over many years by African countries to recover works taken by Western explorers and colonisers. This comes at an interesting time of cultural introspection by the West.

The Quai Branly Museum in Paris alone holds nearly eighty-thousand African artefacts.

Macron made his promise to hand back the artefacts in 2017 and we applaud his integrity.

The Smithsonian Museum is also planning to follow suit.