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The French Legacy in Africa

The severed heads of the resistance fighters were displayed in a market square first. Then they were shipped back to private collections in Paris. For decades, they were boxed up in a museum basement and finally, this July, Emmanuel Macron sent them home. For President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the moment was recognition of a massacre by the French more than 170 years ago. For Macron, it’s part of his effort to project a modern image of the French state at a time when ethnic divisions at home have been laid bare by the Black Lives Matter protests against police violence. Macron has said he wants to see the return of many more African relics and artifacts taken during the colonial era. He supports efforts in West Africa to split from the French-backed common currency and has promised to open the archives on the genocide that took place under a French-backed government in Rwanda.