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France's President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the New Africa-France 2021 Summit, in Montpellier, southern France, Oct. 8, 2021.

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron said Friday that his country will return 26 African artworks — royal thrones, ceremonial altars, revered statues — to Benin later this month, part of France's long-promised plans to give back artwork taken from Africa during the colonial era.

Discussions have been under way for years on returning the artworks from the 19th century Dahomey Kingdom. Called the "Abomey Treasures," they currently are held in the Quai Branly Museum in Paris. The museum, near the Eiffel Tower, holds thousands of works from former French colonies.


Macron said the 26 pieces will be given back at the end of October, "because to restitute these works to Africa is to give African young people access to their culture." It remains unclear when exactly they will arrive in Benin.

"We need to be honest with ourselves. There was colonial pillage, it's absolutely true," Macron told a group of African cultural figures at an Africa-France gathering in the southern city of Montpellier. He noted other works already were returned to Senegal and Benin, and the restitution of art to Ivory Coast is planned.

Cameroon-born art curator Koyo Kouoh pressed Macron for more efforts to right past wrongs.

"Our imagination was violated," she said.

"Africa has been married to France in a forced marriage for at least 500 years," Kouoh said. "The work (on mending relations) that should have been done for decades wasn't done...It's not possible that we find ourselves here in 2021.

African art pieces on display in a mueseum A visitor looks at wooden statues of the 19th century Dahomey Kingdom era, at the Quai Branly museum in Paris, France, Nov. 23, 2018. France is to return later this month artworks to Benin it took during the colonial era. Image source: voa

"A sweeping 2018 report commissioned by Macron recommended that French museums give back works that were taken without consent, estimating that up to 90% of African art is located outside the continent. Some other European countries are making similar efforts.

Three years later, few artworks have been returned. To facilitate the repatriation of the Abomey Treasures, France's parliament passed a law in December 2020 allowing the state to hand the works over and giving it up to one year to do so.

The Africa-France meeting Friday was frank and occasionally heated. Macron, who is trying to craft a new French strategy for Africa. met with hundreds of African entrepreneurs, cultural leaders and young people.

Speakers from Nigeria, Chad, Guinea and beyond had a long list of demands for France: reparations for colonial crimes, withdrawal of French troops, investment that bypasses corrupt governments and a tougher stance toward African dictatorships.

Macron defended France's military presence in Mali and other countries in the Sahel region as necessary to keep terrorists at bay, and he refused to apologize for the past.

But he acknowledged that France has a "responsibility and duty" to Africa because of its role in the slave trade and other colonial-era wrongs. Noting that more than 7 million French people have a family link to Africa, Macron said France cannot build its future unless it "assumes its Africanness." (VOA/RN)

Keywords: African Art, France, Macron, Colonialism


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Surgeons attached a pig kidney to a pair of large blood vessels outside the body of a deceased recipient so they could observe it for two days, and the kidney did what it was supposed to do.

Scientists temporarily attached a pig's kidney to a human body and watched it begin to work, a small step in the decades-long quest to one day use animal organs for lifesaving transplants.

Pigs have been the most recent research focus to address the organ shortage, but among the hurdles: A sugar in pig cells, foreign to the human body, causes immediate organ rejection. The kidney for this experiment came from a gene-edited animal, engineered to eliminate that sugar and avoid an immune system attack.

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Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Killer Smog in Delhi.

Developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune, a Decision Support System (DSS) that extends the ability of the existing air quality early warning system (AQEWS) to have decision-making capability for air quality management in Delhi-NCR was launched on Tuesday.

The website for the DSS (https://ews.tropmet.res.in/dss/) is designed to help the Commission for Air Quality Management for NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) by delivering quantitative information about the contribution of emissions from Delhi and its 19 surrounding districts; the contribution of emissions from eight different sectors in Delhi; and the contribution from biomass-burning activities in the neighbouring states.

These information would assist in managing the air quality in a timely manner, a release from the Ministry of Earth Sciences said.

The need was stated by the CAQM, which was formed by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, during a meeting held in January 2021.

Recently, the Commission reviewed the progress made by IITM and had in principle approved the current version of DSS for air quality management in the Delhi-NCR. The IITM has also developed a new website for DSS with the entire system made operational, the release said.

Union Minister of State for Earth Sciences, Jitendra Singh, while launching the website for AQEWS on the occasion of 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' week organised by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said, "DSS is a significant contribution to 'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav' on behalf of MoES and IITM and suggestions are invited on this issue."

The website also has a feature whereby the users can create their own emission reduction scenarios (from 20 different districts, including Delhi) so as to examine the possible projected improvement in air quality in Delhi for the next five days.

"This information would explicitly highlight the most important emission sources responsible for the degradation of air quality in Delhi and suggest possible solutions to ameliorate the same. With a plethora of quantitative data, the AQEWS integrated with DSS could become a user-friendly tool for air-quality management in and around Delhi," the release said. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: Delhi, India, Pollution, IITM, Ministry of Earth Sciences


Photo by GOI.

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020. Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.

According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.

Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector. In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.

According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting. On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.

Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)


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