Ivory Coast: At the Museum of Civilizations, the Location for the “Talking Drum” to be Shown to France

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Jean-Marie Bockel, the personal envoy of the French president, is currently in Ivory Coast. His primary mission is to reconsider the architecture of French military bases on the continent. However, on February 20, 2024, in Abidjan, he also addressed the issue of restitution of artifacts and artworks. He notably visited the Museum of Civilizations, where the “talking drum,” the first piece slated for restitution by France to Côte d’Ivoire, will be housed.

A towering elephant skull greets visitors at the museum’s entrance, with a space just beyond. This vacant spot is where the “talking drum” could be displayed once returned. “It has been restored in collaboration with communities who wished certain pigments remain untouched.”

Armed with a tablet, the Minister of Culture displays a three-dimensional image of the Djidji Ayokwé, restored by the Musée du Quai Branly. Meanwhile, staff at the Museum of Civilizations are gearing up for the drum’s return, undergoing training to digitize numerous pieces from the collection.


“We have received support from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, enabling us to rehabilitate the museum, as well as to train our staff and conservators. The dialogue continues. Everything is being arranged for the drum to return under the best conditions here in Côte d’Ivoire,” explains Françoise Remarck, the Ivorian Minister of Culture.

Standing beside her, the special envoy of the French president, Jean-Marie Bockel, is impressed. “These are truly partnerships that herald a promising future and, I believe, also symbolize the quality of the relationship – both respectful and profound – between France and Côte d’Ivoire.” On the French side, the National Assembly still needs to adopt a framework law to formalize the restitution of plundered cultural treasures.

Soukaina Sghir

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