King of Asante demands gold is returned from British Museum to Africa

The King of the Asante people in Ghana has requested that the British Museum return gold artefacts currently in its possession to his country. During discussions with the museum’s director, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II asked for the return of works that were taken from the Asante palace in Kumasi during the 1874 war with the British.

The British Museum has stated that it is considering the possibility of lending the items to Ghana.

Following his travel to the UK for King Charles’s Coronation, the Ghanaian monarch visited with Dr Hartwig Fischer, the director of the British Museum, last week.

The museum has come under increasing pressure in recent years to return items to their original countries, with Greece’s demand for the Parthenon Sculptures being the most notable example.

The British government eventually purchased these sculptures, popularly known as the Elgin Marbles, which were stolen by Lord Elgin in the 19th century and are currently on exhibit at the British Museum.

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Returning cultural relics is a problem that is frequently connected to nations that have experienced colonial struggle.

Ethiopia has asked the British Museum to return a number of objects that were taken from Maqdala in the country’s north during a British military operation in 1868, including ceremonial crosses, weaponry, jewellery, and sacred altar tablets.

The Benin Bronzes are exquisite sculptures made of bronze and brass that were created by specialised guilds working for the royal court of the Oba, or King, in Benin City beginning in the 16th century.

The Nigerian government has also submitted an official request to the museum for the return of 900 Benin Bronzes. When the British took control of the city in 1897, the majority of these items were confiscated.

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The Restitution Committee, a group established by the Ghanaian government, has been tasked with investigating the return of Asante Palace artefacts that are currently housed in international collections.

A committee member named Nana Oforiatta Ayim told the BBC: “These objects are largely sacred ones and their return is about more than just restitution. It is also about reparation and repair, for the places they were taken from, but also those who did the taking.”

She continued by saying that their goal is to establish a new partnership free from exploitation or oppression and based on equity and respect for one another.

Dr Fischer, the director of the British Museum, and the Asantehene met for the first time last Thursday, and at that meeting, the Asantehene sought a loan of ceremonial objects that belonged to the British Museum.

During the 1800s, the Asante Empire was among a limited number of African empires that provided significant opposition to European colonizers.

The Asante’s autonomy was ended in 1874 when a British force invaded the capital of Kumasi in response to an attack by the Asante two years prior.

British Museum spokeswoman told the BBC: “Our director and deputy director were pleased to welcome His Royal Majesty Osei Tutu II (the Asantehene) to the museum during his visit to the UK for the Coronation of King Charles III.”

According to the spokeswoman, the British Museum is considering the option of loaning objects from its collection to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the conclusion of the third Anglo-Asante conflict

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