Mnangagwa calls for repatriation of African artefacts from Western museums

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Wednesday called for the restitution and repatriation of African artefacts that were expropriated from Africa during the colonial era and are currently displayed in Western museums.

Mnangagwa made the remarks at the third edition of the International Conference on African Cultures, which was held here on Nov. 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 artefacts are of great cultural and economic value, and therefore should be returned to their rightful owners.

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

Speaking on the same occasion, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Kirsty Coventry said the return of the artefact is imperative for the realization 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. Xinhua

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