Plundering of Mali’s art a major problem

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Mali’s ancient art has been plundered from archaeological sites to be sold in Europe and the United States. In 1970 the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted a convention to stop that kind of illicit trafficking in cultural property. 

Derrick Mbatha discussed this issue with Dr. Samuel Sidibé, the Director of the National Museum of Mali who was attending a recent meeting of UNESCO in Paris.

Duration: 2’20″

SIDIBE: Right now is the 40th birthday for the UNESCO Convention. The main objective of this convention is to fight illicit trafficking, particularly illicit trafficking of archaeological objects.

MBATHA: Is the illicit trafficking of cultural property a serious problem in Mali?

SIDIBE: It’s a big problem in Mali. Now I am talking about archaeological artefacts. Mali is a country with a lot of archaeological sites. From the seventies the archaeological sites have been plundered by people and the objects have been sold in Europe and the U.S. This is a very big problem for Mali because it deprives Mali of an important part of its cultural heritage and also it deprives Mali of the possibility to write its history.

MBATHA: Who is responsible for plundering these artefacts?

SIDIBE: Most of the time it is the local communities. During the seventies as we discovered artefacts sculptures, the market was asking for this kind of statues and people organized themselves or were organized by art dealers, by antique dealers to plunder archaeological sites. So you have a kind of organized illicit trafficking.

MBATHA: Now, how were they able to smuggle these artefacts out of Mali?

SIDIBE: Of course they don’t do it officially because we have rules in Mali. Our legislation is absolutely clear on that case. Let’s say 1985 we adopted a legislation which forbids archaeological objects trafficking. But you know, as for any criminal activity they hide their activities. Of course, the country is huge but now we are training customs. We are training police and we are developing international collaboration to try to curb this phenomenon.

MBATHA: It sounds like this is an operation that was being undertaken by organized crime.

SIDIBE: Yes, of course.

MBATHA: Now, apart from this law that you say was adopted in 1985 what other measures are you taking to prevent this smuggling of artefacts?

SIDIBE; We have legislation. We have what I call sensitization. If you want to curb this phenomenon you have to work with local communities to fight illicit trafficking. But the other aspect of the solution is the development of international collaboration, international cooperation and the UNESCO Convention is very useful for that.

PRESENTER:

That was Dr. Samuel Sidibé, the Director of the National Museum of Mali ending this edition of UN and Africa. I am Derrick Mbatha. 

Filed under Today's Features.

Plundering of Mali's art a major problem

Illicit trafficking in archaeological artefacts from Mali is a "big problem" which deprives the country of material for writing its own history.

Illicit art trafficking

So says the head of the National Museum of Mali, Dr. Samuel Sidibé, who is attending a two-day meeting of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris.

“Mali is a country with a lot of archaeological sites and from the seventies the archaeological sites have been plundered by people and the objects have been sold in Europe and the U.S. This is a very big problem for Mali because it deprives Mali of an important part of its cultural heritage and also it deprives Mali of the possibility to write its history.”

Experts from around the world have gathered in Paris to discuss how to effectively implement the 1970 Convention to prohibit and prevent the illicit trafficking in cultural property.

UNESCO is marking the 40th anniversary of the Convention.

duration: 22″

Filed under Today's News.
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