Chao & Molemo at The Open Society Foundations ‘Global Convening for the Restitution of African Heritage’

Our co-founders, Chao Tayiana and Molemo Moiloa, took the stage as featured speakers at the Open Society Foundations’ Global Convening for the Restitution of African Heritage in Ghana.
This event, held from August 22 to August 24, 2023, brought together a diverse assembly of
stakeholders, including representatives from the African Union, ECOWAS, NGOs, UN agencies,
artists, academia, creative communities, civil society, and the African diaspora.

The convening occurred amid a pivotal phase in the ongoing struggle for the return of African
heritage, a movement that traces its origins to the colonial era. In recent years, it has experienced a resurgence, with impassioned calls for the expedited repatriation of objects illicitly removed from the African continent during the colonial period. With global pressure mounting, the need for a unified alliance of stakeholders, advocating and negotiating for the return of these cultural treasures, has never been more critical.

Photo Credit: Open Society Foundations, Global Convening for African Restitution (2023).

Molemo seized the opportunity to share her insights as a panellist and speaker on the panel
titled ‘Creative Communities: Their Contributions to Restitution.’ Her thought-provoking contributions highlighted the indispensable role played by creative communities in advancing
the discourse on restitution. Molemo’s presence underscored the influential position of art and
culture in the quest for justice and heritage preservation.

Photo Credit: Open Society Foundations, Global Convening for African Restitution (2023).

On another front, Chao took the audience on a journey with her presentation on ‘Plurality and
Purpose: Archives, Digital Repatriation, and Restitution.’ As a speaker on the panel ‘Archives,
Digital Repatriation, and Restitution,’ Chao initiated a discussion that navigated the intricate
terrain of digital repatriation, where archives emerge as a potent tool for the reclamation of

Photo Credit: Open Society Foundations, Global Convening for African Restitution (2023).

Beyond their roles as speakers, the convening provided an opportunity to offer a sneak peek of
our upcoming project, ‘Restitution 101.’ The inaugural episode, titled ‘A History of Theft,’ was
screened for an engaged audience. This episode offers a concise yet comprehensive overview
of collection practices, museums, and their entanglement with colonial ideologies and racism.
The screening was met with enthusiasm and marked the beginning of a journey to educate and
empower individuals on the nuances of heritage restitution.

As co-founders of Open Restitution Africa, Chao and Molemo’s participation exemplifies our
commitment to fostering meaningful dialogue and driving positive change in the realm of
heritage restitution. Their expertise and insights will leave an impact on efforts to open up
conversations on preservation and return of Africa’s cultural heritage.

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