France Temporarily Returns Stolen Artifact to Senegal

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has handed back to its former colony, Senegal the sword of legendary Islamic and anti-colonist leader Omar Saidou Tall, who died in 1864.  Who is Omar Saidou Tall?

The 19th-century sword is part of more than 90,000 artifacts stolen from sub-Saharan Africa states by France, mostly from former colonies.  It is reported that “Between 1890 and 1918, Western colonial expansion in Africa led to the looting of many pieces of sub-Saharan African art, artifacts or natural heritage that were subsequently brought to Europe and displayed”

This is the first step taken by France to return collections stored in French Museums.  Earlier in November 2018, Macron promised to respect the advice of experts to return thousands of artifacts stolen from Africa during the colonial period.

In his reaction, Senegal’s President Macky Sall has praised the conduct of France as historic.

However, the sword will only stay in Senegal for the next five years awaiting the French MPs vote on a motion whether to permanently return the artifacts or not.

France has maintained a strong influence over its former colonies since the dawn of colonialism. Senegal is also referred to as “petit Paris, (Little France). It was the administrative seat of the assimilation policy of France, thus the “capital city of foreign France”.

Adding his voice on the issue, Hamady Bocoum, at Dakar’s Museum of Black Civilizations told AFP News Agency that “It’s symbolic. It had been lent to us before, but now it is being restored to us.”