To Protest Colonialism, He Takes Artifacts From Museums

Mwazulu Diyabanza in Paris on Sept. 4. Elliott Verdier for The New York Times.

In this feature for The New York Times, Farah Nayari spotlights the life of Mwazulu Diyabanza– a Congolese activist fighting the history of looted African art, by stealing it back from museums. Diyabanza came to international attention after his live-sreamed protests (which began in June, in France) were posted to Facebook. The videos show him denouncing colonial cultural theft before removing art from various French art institutions.

Hakim Chergui, one of the lawyers representing Diyabanza and his compatriots in court, had this to say:

“We’re not talking about a bunch of swindlers who wanted to steal a statue to resell it. These are clearly people who have a political message and who, through a militant act, want to engage with public opinion.”