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Benin Requests Return Of Colonial Treasures From France

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Benin is asking for the return of treasures that were taken during French colonial rule from the end of the 19th century, re-opening a thorny diplomatic issue that resonates across Africa.

Lawmakers and civil society groups from both countries have written to French President Francois Hollande, calling for the return of “colonial treasures”, including royal thrones and swords.

Many are now on display in French museums, including the Quai Branly in Paris, which exhibits indigenous art from across the world.

Signatories to the open letter, which was published this week, described the objects as having “an exceptional spiritual and proprietary value for the Benin people”.

Benin-eyes-return-of-colonial-treasures-from-France-640x445

Many of the treasures are now on display in French museums

France ruled Dahomey until 1960, when it was granted independence and changed its name to Benin. Dahomey included the kingdom of the same name that dates back to about 1600.

Most of the artefacts have not been documented but Benin’s ambassador to the UN cultural body UNESCO in Paris, Irenee Zevounou, believes some 4,500 to 6,000 are in France, including in private collections.

France’s stockpiling of treasures from Dahomey happened during colonial fighting between 1892 and 1894 but also by missionaries who “robbed communities of what they considered to be charms”, said Zevounou.

“The negotiations are both with the French state and the French church”, he added.

– ‘Historic assets’ –

Modern-day Benin’s President Patrice Talon railed against French influence in its former colony during the election campaign that brought him to power last year.

He said the repatriation of such treasures would allow people “to get to know better our cultural and historic assets” and also allow the tiny west African nation to develop tourism.

“We don’t have oil, we don’t have gold but we do have these treasures which aren’t kept here,” one of the letter’s signatories, Beninese lawmaker Orden Alladatin, told AFP.

“That’s crucial for the history of the country and the continent.”

Benin first called for the return of its treasures in July last year, then in September it made a formal request to France’s foreign ministry.

This month, Benin’s foreign affairs and culture ministers travelled to the French capital. Another delegation is expected to follow suit.

In the letter, Hollande is asked to make “a gesture for history, a gesture for the future, a gesture for the friendship between peoples” in his last weeks in power before two-round presidential polls in April and May.

But the problem may not be as simple and as easily resolvable as it first appears.

For one, Benin has not drawn up a list of objects that it wishes to reclaim. But the main stumbling block is legal.

– Diplomatic route –

Benin’s government stated earlier this month that it intended to rely on the UNESCO convention of 1970, which provides for “the transfer to cultural assets to their countries of origin or for their restitution in case of illegal appropriation”.

But the convention, to which France and Benin are both signatories, is not retroactive: it only applies to the transfer of objects since it came into force.

France’s foreign ministry is pushing this line and relying on “the legal principles of inalienability and imprescriptibility… of public collections”, one official told AFP in an email.

“Since the works have been in museum collections often for more than a century, they are inalienable,” added lawyer Yves-Bernard Debie, who specialises in art sales law.

“The other legal problem which is raised here is the actual origin of the objects. The Kingdom of Dahomey stretched across what is now Benin and Nigeria. Is Benin justified in making this request?

“In a personal capacity I understand… it’s a painful and sensitive issue in Africa. But legally, there’s nothing.”

Benin’s only recourse is therefore the diplomatic route, the same that its giant neighbour to the east, Nigeria, has used to try to get back artefacts taken by British colonialists in the same period.

“Talks are ongoing and have not stopped,” said one member of the Benin delegation to UNESCO.

“It will perhaps be lengthy, because the process is difficult,” added Zevounou. “But in diplomacy, you always end up by finding common ground.”

OPINION

Rhasidat Adeleke: How Rich Is The Irish-Born Nigerian In 2024?

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Rhasidat Adeleke: all to know about the Irish-born Nigerian | fab.ng

Nigerian athletics fans, meet Rhasidat Adeleke! This 21-year-old has been making waves in the world of sprinting. She was born in Tallaght, Dublin, Ireland, on August 29, 2002, with Nigerian heritage.

She’s become a record-breaker with her impressive speed on the track. We’ll explore her career highlights and achievements, but first, let’s get to know her a bit better.

Here’s the breakdown of Rhasidat Adeleke’s profile:

  • Full Name: Rhasidat Adeleke
  • Age: 21 (born August 29, 2002)
  • Hometown: Tallaght, Dublin, Ireland
  • Height: 5 feet 7 inches (1.70 meters)

Rhasidat Adeleke’s journey on the track began early.

Born in Dublin to Nigerian parents, she always had a talent for running. She honed her skills locally, quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with, leaving competitors in her dust.

At 17, Adeleke’s competitive career officially started with a win in the junior sprint double at the Irish Schools championship. A year later, she claimed her first major title in the senior category at the national outdoor championships. This was just the beginning!

Adeleke went on to break records and win medals on the international stage. A highlight was her double win in the 100m and 200m at the European U20 Championships in 2021.

Rhasidat Adeleke: boyfriend (personal life)

Despite her success, Adeleke stays focused and keeps pushing herself. She trains hard, driven to reach her full potential and inspire future generations of Irish and Nigerian athletes.

 

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A post shared by Rhasidat Adeleke (@rhasidat_adeleke)

While Adeleke keeps her personal life private, with social media mostly dedicated to athletics, it seems she’s currently single and laser-focused on her blossoming sprinting career.

Rhasidat Adeleke: net worth?

Rhasidat Adeleke is proving to be a powerhouse both on and off the track. While her record-breaking speed has made her a star in the world of athletics, she’s also cultivated a savvy business mind.

By leveraging her growing fame, Adeleke has built a strong personal brand that’s attracted major corporations. This strategic move has resulted in lucrative endorsement deals and sponsorships with companies like Allianz, KPMG, and the sportswear giant Nike.

These partnerships, combined with the prize money and recognition that come with her athletic achievements, have contributed to an estimated net worth between $2-5 million in 2024.

This impressive figure speaks volumes about Adeleke’s potential not just as a world-class sprinter, but also as a future business leader who understands the value of her brand. Indeed, Adeleke is a well-rounded young woman with a bright future ahead of her, both on the track and in the world of business.

Rhasidat Adeleke: achievements

Also, according to the World Athletics Organisation, the Irish-born Nigerian athlete is on the path to greatness based on her impressive records and achievements.

 

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A post shared by Rhasidat Adeleke (@rhasidat_adeleke)

  • World U20 Silver Medalist
  • 1-time European 4x400m Champion
  • 2-time European U20 Champion
  • 1-time European U18 Champion
  • Holds Irish U20 Records
  • Irish Record Holder in 200m and 400m
  • 3-time NCAA Champion
  • 3-time National Champion
  • 1-time National Indoor Champion

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Rhasidat Adeleke (@rhasidat_adeleke)

As Adeleke looks ahead, she is focused on competing in the 2024 Paris Olympics, where she will represent Ireland. Her goal is to win gold, and the world is excited to see what this exceptional Irish-Nigerian track star will achieve next.

Check out more updates here.

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SPORTS

Benin Republic Defeats Super Eagles, As Nigeria’s Finidi George Fails

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Super Eagles risk losing world cup qualification match | fab.ng

Big upset in African soccer! Nigeria’s Super Eagles, a strong team usually expected to qualify for the World Cup, is in danger of missing out for the first time in decades. The problem? A surprising loss to the Benin Republic, a much less-favoured team nicknamed the “Cheetahs.” This defeat dropped Nigeria to fifth place in their qualifying group. They desperately needed a win to stay on track, but Benin pulled off a shocking 2-1 victory.

Things are looking tough for Nigeria. They’re now four points behind the leader. That gap could widen to five points if another team wins their next match.

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SPORTS

Nigeria Vs South Africa: When And Where To Watch World Cup Qualifying Match

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When & where to watch Nigeria vs South Africa match | fab.ng

The Nigerian national football team, nicknamed the Super Eagles, are facing off against South Africa in a World Cup qualifier match. This important game is happening in Nigeria, and the Super Eagles are looking to take the top spot in their group.

This isn’t the first time these two teams have met recently. Earlier this year, Nigeria beat South Africa on penalties during the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) semifinal, although they ultimately lost the final to Ivory Coast. The Super Eagles are hoping to repeat their success against South Africa and continue their journey towards qualifying for the 2026 World Cup.

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