The French government is seeking to strengthen its relationship with Cameroon in the area of heritage and museums. "We also want to know what exactly our Cameroonian peers expect from this cooperation. A law should be voted on this year in France to allow the restitution of Cameroonian art objects. I am here to promote this type of partnership between our two countries," said the French ambassador for international heritage cooperation, Jean-Luc Martinez (pictured), during the visit he just completed in Cameroon.
In mid-January 2023, French Culture Minister Rima Abdul Malak announced that the government will present three framework laws to Parliament this year, including one to facilitate the return of cultural objects. "The president wanted the former president of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, to prepare a framework law that would establish a doctrine and criteria for restitution," she told Le Monde, referring to "a historic challenge for France”.
The restitution of African art objects was announced by the French President in his November 28, 2017 speech in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. "I want that within five years, the conditions are met for temporary or permanent restorations of African heritage in Africa," he said. More than 7,800 pieces of Cameroonian cultural property are in the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac Museum in Paris, France, alone.
In Cameroon, a ministerial committee in charge of the repatriation of cultural property "illegally exported" abroad has been set up, as the government faces incessant pressure from communities, artists, civil society, and associations demanding the return of these art objects. The committee members were officially installed on February 1 by Minister Bidoug Mkpatt, with instructions to work "for the effective return of the first Cameroonian cultural goods illegally exported abroad by the end of the year”.
Patricia Ngo Ngouem