Art
Masks from Mali's Dogon region on display at the Quai Museum in France. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Senegal Urges French Museums To Return Looted Art

This demand from the Senegalese government comes in lieu of the permanent restitution report commissioned by France's President Emmanuel Macron.

As the conversation around the restitution of stolen art and treasures from Africa continues, some action has taken place that has shaken up the museum world.

The Senegalese government has demanded that all of their art in French museums should be returned, as the country will soon open the new Museum of Black Civilizations in Dakar, BBC reports.

This news comes in lieu of "The Restitution of African Cultural Heritage: Toward a New Relational Ethics" report that was released last week by economist Felwine Sarr and art historian Bénédicte Savoy; commissioned by France's President Emmanuel Macron. You can download the full report in French and English here. The report highly urges that stolen African artifacts must be returned to their countries of origin permanently.


Abdou Latif Coulibaly, Senegal's culture minister, tells the BBC that they've already asked the French government to return more than 100 artifacts. He also welcomes the report as "every piece from Senegal is in France."

"We've read it and we consider it's a positive report," Coulibaly continues, "it's legitimate and follows the course of history."

Prior to this news, Macron as also called on 26 Benin bronze artifacts to be returned to their country of origin "without delay," based on a proposal from the Quai Museum and the French ministry of culture, Artnet News reports. He also asked French museums to establish African partners to begin organizing returns and the development of an online inventory of museums' African collections.

Benin Bronzes. Victoria & Albert Museum. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Among the artifacts that will be returned include three statues of the kings of Abomey, thrones, ornamental doors and a statue of the god Gou. Artnet adds that these items were stolen during General Dodd's bloody siege on the Béhanzin palace in 1892. There are plans for these artifacts to be made available to the public in Benin.

Prince Kum'a Ndumbe III, who represents the Duala people in Cameroon, tells The New York Times that such a commitment displayed in the report has been long overdue since French-speaking African countries gained independence from France in 1960.

"This is not just about the return of African art," he says. "When someone's stolen your soul, it's very difficult to survive as a people."

Last month, the Benin Dialogue Group has been in conversations with European museums about the repatriation of their stolen art, and plans to do so are continuing moving forward—starting with the British Museum, CNN adds. The caveat with these negotiations remain that this agreement would allow these museums to place these artifacts on loan to their country of origin.

"We are grateful these steps are being taken but we hope they are only the first steps," Crusoe Osagie, spokesman for the Governor of Edo State, says to CNN. "If you have stolen property, you have to give it back."


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Listen to 10 Great Songs From Johnny Clegg

Here are some of the best songs to remember South Africa's son of the soil.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that South African musician, Johnny Clegg, passed away after a long battle with cancer.

Understandably, heartfelt tributes have been pouring in ever since. Long before it was cool (or even legal) to be in close proximity to blackness and anything attached to it in South Africa, Clegg, a white man, was doing just that. That is exactly why he was given the endearing title of South Africa's "son of the soil."

Growing up during Apartheid, Clegg was taught how to speak the Zulu language by a domestic worker named Charlie Mzila. In his teenage years, his appreciation for the Zulu culture continued and he soon learnt the traditional dance styles known as isishameni and also learnt how to play the Maskandi guitar. Clegg's music was a beacon of light during a very dark time in South Africa's history and his songs about Nelson Mandela (at a time where songs were banned for merely mentioning the name of the late statesman and other key struggle activists) brought the country together.

It is irrefutable that a music giant has fallen. However, Clegg leaves behind a wealth of music featuring other great South African artists and groups such as Zakwe, Brenda Fassie, Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela and Juluka/Suvuka, among several others. His music undeniably brought South Africans and people all around the world together.

We've picked ten of our favorite songs from the late musician's discography in honor of a life that was lived to the fullest.

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The 12 Songs You Need to Hear This Week

Featuring Stonebwoy, Mahmoud Ahmed, Tiwa Savage x Zlatan, Africa Express, Juls x Mr Eazi and more.

Every week, we highlight the cream of the crop in music through our Best Music of the Week column.

Here's our round up of the best tracks and music videos that came across our desks, which you can also check out in our Songs You Need to Hear This Week playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

Follow our SONGS YOU NEED TO HEAR THIS WEEK playlist on Spotify here and Apple Music here.

Check out all of OkayAfrica's new playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Beyoncé Wore These 2 African Designers in Her Music Video for 'Spirit'

Queen Bey continues to include and give a nod to African talent in her visuals.

As we draw even closer to Disney's The Lion King opening in theaters this week, Beyoncé continues to lead the way with her new music video for "Spirit"—the first single off of the film's album she produced and curated, The Lion King: The Gift.

Shot in the Havasu Falls in Arizona's Grand Canyon, Beyoncé and her legion of beautiful dancers are one with nature and its various elements as she beckons us to be brave and hear the calling of spirit. As we noted when she announced the album, the track opens with a call and response in Swahili that translates to "Long live the king": Uishi kwa mda mrefu mfalme—uishi kwa.

Keeping our eyes peeled for African influences in the music video, it's evident that is seen in the choreography. We even spotted our extended fam with the afrobeats moves—the AVO Boys: Stephen Ojo and Caleb Bonney—as two of her dancers in the video.

Beyoncé continues to also give a nod to African talent through the looks she donned in "Spirit" styled by her mainstay, Zerina Akers.

Take a look at the two African designers she wore in the video below.

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