Paris court fined Emery Mwazulu Diyabanza 2,000 euros ($2,320) in his attempt to dislodge an African artifact that was on display at Quai Branly Museum in June, according to Al Jazeera.
Diyabanza, months ago, removed a slender 19th-century wooden funerary post from modern Chad or Sudan, per New York Times.
Diyabanza then headed for the museum exit.
Museum guards, however, stopped the activist before he could leave.
Who Stole from Whom?
The activists argue that they just wanted to draw attention to the artifact’s origins, not steal it.
The Congolese activist has been living in Paris for two decades and is a member of a Pan-African movement.
The movement is demanding France to return African artifacts and make reparations for acts of slavery and colonialism.
He and his fellow activists live-streamed their protests against colonial-era injustice and Europe’s plundering of African art.
However, the presiding judge insisted the trial should focus on the funerary pole incident because he’s not competent to decide for France’s colonial past.
For the museum and the court, this incident is maybe an attempted theft.
However, the object in question is an African artifact, probably pillaged by European colonizers many years ago.
Shouldn’t it be repatriated and be displayed in an African museum instead?
When it all comes down to it, Who is the real thief here?
Three Objects Stolen Sometime in the 19th Century
Diyabanza’s mother told him when he was a teenager that European colonizers took something from one of his ancestors, Times reported.
The European colonists took not one but three important African objects from his great-grandfather, a provincial governor in Congo.
They took a sculpted cane, leopard skin, and a bracelet that the king gave to the governor.
Europeans ruthlessly took those “heritage” away, Diyabanza said.
The story “from my mother” ingrained in me “a strong desire.”
He will see to it that someday this “heritage makes its way back home.”