This second edition of the KITONG-KIASS International 3RRR SYMPOSIUM is dedicated to the importance of restitution for the African continent as well as for the African Diaspora, using the Benin Bronzes as an example. Phil Otaniyen Omodamwen, a 6th generation Benin bronze caster from Benin City, Nigeria, will be the guest of honour. He was born in Benin City into the Omodamwen ́s family which belongs to the Benin bronze guild since 1504 AD and proudly keeps alive over 500 years heritage of bronze casting.
Numerous other speakers and players from the African Diaspora in Austria, as well as from the Austrian and international civil society, will shape this high-profile event. The aim is to foster and strengthen the necessity of an inclusive and differentiated dialogue between Austrian Federal Museums, governmental institutions, and the African Diaspora in Austria, to work towards a sustainable and inclusive collaboration with African Diasporas in Austria, to tackle the complexity of the Restitution Issue and shape the present and the future together.
Proposal of contributions or papers from various fields are solicited: cultural, social, and natural sciences (African Arts and Literatures, Anthropology, Political Sciences, Geography, History, Sociology, Biology, Architecture, Mathematics, Arts and Law, street/town/village arts etc.). Multifarious activities, debates, panel discussions, exhibitions, film projections and workshops from different social, cultural, and political fields are welcome in order to inspire and initiate the shaping of a new relationship between the Austrian government, the Austrians Federal Museums, the African continent and the African diaspora in Austria. Your contributions should touch and address the core issues of the symposium mentioned here in order to be selected. For selected contributions there is an honorarium as an expense allowance rewarded at the end of the symposium. For symposium participants who arrive from abroad, travel expenses will be reimbursed, and accommodation costs will be covered.
KITONG-KIASS is an expression from the Yangben language, which is a variant of the Yambassa language group in Cameroon. Kitong means heritage or memory, while Kiass means our. Therefore, KITONG-KIASS translates to Our heritage, our memory. It is about sharing, healing, including, a new ethic of memory.
The 3RRR (Restitution – Rehabilitation – Reconciliation) constitute a compilation of aspects of the past, present and future of our world, the history of colonial violence, oppression, economic exploitation, racial segregation etc. The African continent and Africans were and are still the terrain par excellence, where subjects and objects had made and are making the experience of trauma, the trauma of colonial exploitation and exclusion. And the scars and aftermaths of those traumatic experiences are still alive in our present and are even threatening to still be haunting the future of people of African descent locally and globally.
The restitution issue is in fact a framework, a chance for a differentiated dialogue between Africa and Europe, based on mutual respect. (See Achille Mbembe). Cultural artifacts from African countries kept in European museum institutions are a dimension of the cultural DNA of African Societies. The time has come to deal intrinsically with some of those artifacts. Everybody is speaking of Benin’s Bronzes. But what is it at all? What is the technology, technic, and cosmogony behind it? What is its historical horizon? Where is the intersection and difference between old and new Benin’s Bronzes Art? What is the significance of those artifacts in Africa and for the African Diaspora? This would also be the occasion to analyse other artefacts, that are less known.