The Open Society Foundations has pledged $15 million (Sh1.5 billion) over four years to initiatives aimed at returning cultural objects looted from the African continent.
The initiative will support networks and organisations working to repatriate not only art and ceremonial objects but also human remains, natural history specimens, archives, and cultural heritage artifacts to their rightful homes, the organisation announced.
“The legacy of colonial violence has deep implications for the ways that racism and imbalances of power are perpetuated today.
“This isn’t just about returning pieces of art, but about restoring the very essence of these cultures,” said Patrick Gaspard, president of Open Society. “We are proud to support this movement towards reconciling historical wrongs, as part of our mission to advance true justice.”
For decades, Africans have advocated for the return of this heritage—including not only art and ceremonial objects, but also human remains, natural history specimens, archives, and intangible cultural heritage like sound recordings and photographs.
Entire collections have been made from material looted during military raids and atrocities at Maqdala and in Namibia and Nigeria, among many others.