France returns 26 treasures to Benin

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A total of 26 artifacts, removed by France from Benin during the colonial era, arrived in Cotonou on Wednesday afternoon.

The plane carrying these treasures from Paris landed around 3:15 p.m. local time at Cardinal Bernardin Gantin International Airport in Cotonou, the economic capital of the West African country.

A mixed feeling of joy and anxiety could be read on the faces of representatives of the authorities present on the scene to welcome the returned treasures.

"We are living a very important moment in our history. It is a happy and emotional day for all Beninese," said the Beninese Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts, Jean Michel Abimbola.

On Wednesday, many Beninese come to the airport to celebrate the return of their ancestral artworks, with songs and traditional dances.

"Welcome to your homeland after a long stay of approximately 130 years in the land of colonists. We are proud to welcome you," they sang.

According to a government press release recently published in Cotonou, on August 26, 2016, Benin officially brought before France a request for the return of royal treasures located in several museums and in private collections in France.

The agreement of handover of these treasures was signed Tuesday in Paris. 

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