Zimbabwe calls for repatriation of African artifacts from Western museums

by IANS |

Harare, Nov 25 (IANS) Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa called for the restitution and repatriation of African artifacts that were expropriated from Africa during the colonial era and are currently displayed in Western museums.

Mnangagwa made the remarks on Wednesday at the third edition of the International Conference on African Cultures, being held here from November 23-25 and attended by dignitaries from across the African continent.

"Our peoples' heritage must be freed from the hostage of Western museums, public spaces and private institutions. Within the purviews of the rights-based discourse, Africa and its people continue to unreservedly pronounce that 'cultural rights are human rights too.' In light of this, Africa must reunite with that which belongs to it," Mnangagwa said.

Raphael Chikukwa, director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe said the looted artifacts are of great cultural and economic value, and therefore should be returned to their rightful owners, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said the return of the artifacts is essential for Africans to revisit and re-engage with the important aspects of African history the artifacts represent.

Zimbabwe's Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry said the return of the artifacts is imperative for the realisation of the national identity.

"To us as Zimbabweans, as we strive towards Vision 2030, it is imperative that we strengthen our national identity, we need to know and fully appreciate where we come from in order to know where we are going," she said.

Vision 2030 seeks to propel Zimbabwe into a middle-income economy by the year 2030.

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