Reimagining Heritage, Archives and Museums: Today/Tomorrow Day 2 – The ‘Repatriation and Restitution: From Conversation to Action’ Discussion

Arts and Creative Industries

The Reimagining Heritage, Archives and Museums: Today/Tomorrow convening took place from 13th to 15th February 2024 at the Homecoming Centre in Cape Town.

A performance lecture titled From Broken Bones to Healing Hearts: My Journey with Sarah Baartman, by Dr Diana Ferrus (South African Poet and Writer) and Siphokazi Jonas (South African  Poet, Playwright and Producer), was followed by an important conversation exploring restitution efforts in more depth and debating the ways forward for addressing a long history of appropriation of African people, cultures, spaces and objects by colonial powers.

This discussion was moderated by Professor Ciraj Rassool (Senior Professor of History at the University of the Western Cape) and involved the following speakers: Rasoarifetra Bako (the President of the International Council of Museums – ICOM Madagasikara), Simbayi Cogen Qwasira (the Chief of the Makoni District), Dr Rudo Sithole (Founding Director of AFRIMUHERE – African Museums and Heritage Restitution – and Senior Lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe), Veronika Châtelain (Senior Programme Officer of Culture and Art at the Open Society Foundations/African Restitution Fund (AReF)) and Zakhele Ndlovu (Heritage Officer at SAHRA – South African Heritage Resources Agency). They were joined by the co-curator of the convening programme, Emmanuel Kasarhérou, who is the President of The Musée du Quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris.

The panellists aimed to get to the root of restitution and work through the shift from conversation to action so that there can be definitive changes in heritage, archives and museums, that reach more corners of the continent. Specific cases were highlighted, with some successes and frustrations discussed. The South African Heritage Resources Agency’s new department and policies to specifically tackle restitution were tabled as a positive way forward.

Watch the full video below, as each speaker shares their experiences and knowledge, expresses their concerns, and details the efforts that have been made thus far and the plans for tomorrow.

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