Return of 'talking drum' to Ivory Coast a 'historic move': traditional leader

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Return of 'talking drum' to Ivory Coast a 'historic move': traditional leader
Traditional chief of the Ebrie ethnic group Clavaire Aguego Mobio talks to media about the return by France of the Djidji Ayokwe, the 'talking drum', in Abidjan on October 11, 2021. The return by France of the Djidji Ayokwe, the talking drum of the Ebrie people is "a highly historic gesture", the traditional chieftaincy said. Issouf SANOGO / AFP.

ABIDJAN.- France's upcoming restitution to Ivory Coast of the Djidji Ayokwe, the beloved "talking drum" of the Ebrie people, is "a highly historic move", their chief said Monday.

"We no longer expected the return of this drum, which was our loudspeaker, our Facebook," Clavaire Aguego Mobio, leader of the Ebrie, told AFP.

On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron announced artworks and other prized artefacts long sought by Ivory Coast would soon be returned. They include the Djidji Ayokwe, which is currently in Paris's Quai Branly museum.

The restitution of looted artworks to Africa is one of the highlights of the "new relationship" that Macron wants to establish with the continent.

The drum, used as a communication tool to transmit messages between different areas, was taken by the French in 1916 when Ivory Coast was still under their colonial rule.

"We thank President Macron and expect a favourable follow-up to this announcement," said Mobio. A large ceremony would soon be held to "inform the seven villages that make up the Ebrie people" in the Abidjan region, he added.

"This talking drum will recall our history and raise the image of the Ebrie people, whose traces are disappearing with the uncontrolled urbanisation of the Abidjan area, home to more than five million inhabitants," he said.

Ivory Coast officially asked France in 2018 to return 148 works of art taken during the colonial period, including the Djidji Ayokwe.

"The disappearance of the drum greatly destabilised the social and traditional organisation of the Ebrie people," said Mobio.

© Agence France-Presse

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