“Heritage and restitution: what are museums for today ?”
This was the theme of the conference organised at the Douala Maritime Museum on 25 February 2023 by H.E Jean-Luc Martinez, French Ambassador in charge of International Cooperation and Heritage at the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, as well as former Director of the Louvre Museum in France. He was welcomed to the Douala Maritime Museum (DMM) by Mr. Auguste Mbappe Penda, General Manager of the Cameroon National Shippers' Council (CNSC) promoter of the museum. After a guided tour of the Museum, the French Ambassador spent nearly two hours with the public in the multi-purpose conference room elaborating on the importance of museums.
In his presentation, H.E. Jean-Luc Martinez defined the role of museums today in three main aspects: bringing cultures into dialogue; reconciling the past to write a shared history of peoples; and protecting heritage while advocating for peace. As far as the restitution of heritage is concerned, the French Ambassador recalled that in accordance with the promise made by the French President, H.E. Emmanuel Macron, in his 2018 speech in Ouagadougou, the restitution of Africa’s heritage has already begun thanks to the law of 24 December 2020 authorising the return of some of the heritage of Senegal and Benin still found in France. The former President-Director of the Louvre Museum announced that the next country to benefit from this restitution policy will be Côte d'Ivoire and that as far as Cameroon is concerned, the restitution process is already underway.