US museum returns first batch of gold artifacts looted from Ghana

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A museum in the United States has returned to Ghana a batch of royal regalia that were looted by British colonial soldiers 150 years ago, marking the first major return of stolen artifacts to the West African country.

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With this, the Fowler Museum, at the University of California, Los Angeles, said that the items, all real objects from the Asante kingdom, were purchased by an American collector and donated to the museum after his death.

Where did this come from?

Museum representatives handed over the artifacts to the Asante king, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, in the city of Kumasi on Thursday (8).

Additionally, items returned by the Fowler Museum include an elephant tail whisk, two royal stool ornaments, a royal necklace, two bead strings, and an ornamental chair.

Four of them were taken during the sack of Kumasi in 1874, and three were part of a compensation payment made later by the Asante kingdom to the British, according to the museum.

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“These are objects that connect the present to the past, the very essence of a civilization”, highlighted Ivor Agyemang Duah, director of the Asante royal museum, to Reuters.

This happens in a context of growing demand for the repatriation of priceless objects appropriated in colonial times. Nigeria and Ethiopia are among several countries seeking repatriation.

However, some museums point out that they are prohibited by law from permanently returning contested items from their collections.

As a result, the British Museum in London and the Victoria & Albert Museum said last month that they would lend 32 objects taken during the Anglo-Asante wars to the Manhyia Palace Museum in Kumasi.

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