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More African nations calling for return of stolen artifacts

By OTIATO OPALI in Nairobi | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-02-20 09:41

One of the royal artifacts looted 150 years ago by British forces from Ghana's ancient Asante Kingdom, which was later transferred to Fowler Museum. FOWLER MUSEUM/REUTERS

According to experts, the efforts are much more than the recovery of objects stolen during colonial times. The pursuit of such items is also about reclaiming the lost identity of people or nations, healing historical wounds, and redressing the imbalances perpetuated by centuries of colonial oppression, they said.

Arunga noted that in the past five years, Benin has officially asked France for the return of statues that were looted during the European ransacking of the Royal Palaces of Abomey in 1892, while in Ethiopia, the Association for the Return of the Magdala Ethiopian Treasures has also been fighting for the return of cultural items seized by British forces at Magdala in 1868.

"We demand the return of these African artifacts because they are not just items of antiquity, but represent a stolen culture, and their continued stay in European museums is a refusal to acknowledge the injustice that was perpetrated by colonial powers," Arunga said.

She added that in some cases, the removal of items resulted in communities losing knowledge about cultural concepts or no longer knowing how to make such items, including combs, clothing, war armor and other emblems of a lifestyle that was rich and vibrant.

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