Bayush Kebede, my sister artist, was surprised by me. Are there any defences for European museums keeping the ancient artwork from Africa? According to one argument, this would result in the loss of cultural heritage. Poorer collections at museums would make it more challenging for people to learn about other cultures and be exposed to them. Another claim is that museums in Europe are a safer place for ancient artefacts than unstable nations in Africa. Many of these nations lack the ideal storage facilities for artefacts. This argument is absurd in the eyes of many Africans.
Chika Okeke-Agulu of Nigeria, an art historian, compared it to a “thief demanding the construction of a secure facility before returning a stolen BMW.” The justifications for bringing back ancient African art go beyond rhetoric. First, there are brand-new museums being built in Africa. They emphasise the desire of Africans to return with their artefacts. Additionally, these African countries want to increase their soft power, draw more tourists, and generate income. Egypt will finally open the Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo after a number of delays.
Over 100,000 items, including items from Tutankhamun’s tomb, will be housed in this 50-hectare museum. Second, retrieved artefacts boost a country’s self-confidence. When France gave the Dahomey statues back to Benin, a parade brought thousands of people to a free exhibition set up at the presidential palace in Cotonou to view the artwork.