The United Kingdom temporarily returns Ashanti treasures stolen during colonization to Ghana


The antiquities will be on display from May 1 at the Manhyia Palace Museum, Kumasi City to mark the one-year silver jubilee of Ghana’s King of Asante, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

Two British museums have returned 32 gold and silver objects looted from the Ashanti Kingdom more than 150 years ago to Ghana over a six-year period, according to the Ghanaian side that negotiated the loan. The rare items, which arrived in the country on Wednesday, April 17, were stolen from the court of the Asante (or Ashanti) king during the clashes that took place in the 19th century between the British and influential Asante people. Fifteen are from the British Museum and 17 from the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A).

The return comes at a time when international pressure is mounting on European and American museums and institutions to return to African states art objects looted by former colonial powers such as Great Britain, France, Germany and Belgium.

According to the agreement, these antiquities, including gold and silver costumes associated with the Asante royal court, will be on display from May 1 at the Manhyia Palace Museum, Kumasi City, to mark the year-long Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Asante King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

“A sense of pride”

Ivor Agyeman-Duah, the king’s adviser who negotiated the return of the items, explained that they were on loan to the palace for a maximum of six years. “These rare artefacts, which are of immense cultural and spiritual significance to the Ashanti nation, are here on loan for an initial period of three years, with the option of extending for a further three years.”an adviser told AFP by phone.“This is an important moment in our efforts to restore and preserve our heritage and builds a sense of pride and connection to our rich history.”added Ivor Agyeman-Duah.

In February, the Fowler Museum at the University of California permanently returned seven royal objects to King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, which will be displayed alongside those on loan from two British museums.

Nigeria is also negotiating the return of thousands of metal objects dating from the 16th to 18th centuries, looted from the ancient kingdom of Benin and currently held by museums and art collectors in the United States and Europe. In 2021, France returned to Benin 26 objects and works of art stolen in 1892 by colonial forces during the sacking of Abomey.


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