Ghana Asks British Museum to Return Gold

Ghana’s Asante leader is urging the British Museum to give back gold artifacts that belong to his people.

During his visit to the Coronation of King Charles, Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II met with Dr. Hartwig Fischer, the director of the museum, to discuss this matter.

The British Museum currently holds pieces that were taken from the Asante palace in Kumasi during the war with the British in 1874.

The museum has mentioned that it is considering the option of temporarily lending these items to Ghana.

In recent years, the British Museum has faced mounting pressure to return various artifacts in its possession to their countries of origin.

Requests by Greece, Ethiopia, and Nigerian governments

Greece’s demand for the return of the Parthenon Sculptures, commonly known as the Elgin Marbles, is the most well-known example in the ongoing debate surrounding this issue.

These sculptures were originally taken from Greece by Lord Elgin, a diplomat and soldier, during the 19th century. Subsequently, they were acquired by the British government and are currently housed in the British Museum.

Ethiopia is also seeking the return of various items, such as ceremonial crosses, weapons, jewelry, sacred altar tablets, and more. These items were taken from Maqdala, a location in the northern part of Ethiopia, during British military action in 1868.

Furthermore, the Nigerian Government has formally requested the return of 900 Benin Bronzes.

These exquisite sculptures, made of bronze and brass, were crafted by skilled guilds employed by the royal court of the Oba, or King, in Benin City from the 16th century onwards. Many of these valuable artifacts were forcibly taken when the British captured the city in 1897.

‘These objects are largely sacred ones’

In 1974, Ghana’s government officially requested the return of regalia and various items that were taken by British forces in 1874, 1896, and 1900.

The British Museum has since expressed its commitment to establishing a positive and ongoing collaboration with the Asantehene and Ghana’s Manhyia Palace Museum, which serves as a repository of Asante culture.

To address the issue of restitution, the Ghanaian government recently formed a Restitution Committee tasked with examining the return of items that were once part of the Asante palace and are now scattered across collections worldwide.

Nana Oforiatta Ayim, a member of the Committee, explained to the BBC that these objects hold great sacred significance, and their return goes beyond mere restitution. It is an opportunity for reparation and healing, both for the places from which they were taken and for those involved in their removal.

She further emphasized the desire for a new relationship that is rooted in fairness and mutual respect, free from exploitation or oppression.


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