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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

Artifacts returned from Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, in the United States, are carried to Asante King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II at the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi, Ghana, on Feb 8. MISPER APAWU/AP

Calls are increasing across Africa for the return to the continent of heritage items stolen during colonial times.

As a result, experts said more cultural relics are likely to find their way back home, contributing to a restoration of the very essence of African culture.

In early February, for example, the citizens of Ghana were elated over the return by a museum in the United States of antiques that had been looted from Ghana by British forces almost 150 years ago. The looted Asante royal regalia and other objects were returned to their original place, the Manhyia Palace in Kumasi, the capital of Ghana's Ashanti Region.

The return of the artifacts signifies a turning point in Ghanaian history and reflects a global dialogue about cultural heritage restitution. Experts said this might inspire others to evaluate the source of cultural items that they possess.

Abigail Arunga, a Kenyan writer and social activist, said that African countries have been demanding the return of stolen artifacts for some time now, but the calls are getting louder.

"In Kenya, Kenyan artists under an umbrella organization called The Nest began the Invisible Inventories Program in 2012, with the objective of writing to a number of museums across the world asking them if they have any Kenyan artifacts in their collections," Arunga said.

"Last time I checked, of the 40 museums that were written to, 33 have responded. So far, there is a record of 32,000 Kenyan artifacts in 33 foreign museums," she said.

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