Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Repatriation Movement Heats Up!

 There is no question that the Repatriation Movement is heating up. The campaign for the return of African cultural heritage looted from the continent during the colonial era by rapacious agents of empire took decades to gain steam. Now there is no going back! Little by little, one crucial step at a time, led in significant ways by the government of Germany in Europe and the Smithsonian in the US. Those who think that this campaign will simply fade away, as did earlier ones, are in for a different reality: the campaigners are in for the long haul, and there is enough air in their lungs to keep calling out the defenders of Empire's crimes 70 x 7 years to come. 

In the meantime, I appreciate the gestures and actions of colleagues and officials in France, Germany, the UK, and the US who have steered their institutions to commit to the return of looted artifacts in their holdings, like the staff at Horniman. This includes frankly folks at the British Museum who must have to deal with the politics of Britain's new culture-warriors-in-government, like its former Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden MP who in this interview with BBC4 claims that he "loves Benin Bronzes", while defending, with a tremulous voice, why the looted Benin artifacts detained by the British Museum will not be returned. 

Despite the position of these government types and their sympathizers in the art industry, one thing is certain. They are on the wrong side of history, stricken by the disease of colonial nostalgia. Time will tell.

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