UK 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 Ghana’s year-long silver jubilee celebration of the Asante King, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. .

France Télévisions – Culture Editorial


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Asante King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II (left), Ghana, February 8, 2024, during the permanent restitution of objects from the Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).  (NIPAH DENNIS / AFP)

Two British museums have returned to Ghana 32 gold and silver objects looted from the Ashanti kingdom more than 150 years ago for a period of six years, according to the Ghanaian party which negotiated the loan. These precious objects, which arrived in the country on Wednesday April 17, had been stolen from the court of the Asante (or Ashanti) king during the clashes which took place in the 19th century between the British and the influential Asante people. Fifteen come from the British Museum and 17 from the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A).

This return comes as international pressure increases for 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.

Under 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, The occasion of the celebration of the silver jubilee of the Asante king, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, which will last all year.

“Feeling of pride”

Ivor Agyeman-Duah, the king’s adviser who negotiated the return of the objects, explained that they had been loaned to the palace for a maximum period of six years. “These precious artifacts, which have immense cultural and spiritual significance to the Ashanti people, are here under a loan agreement for an initial period of three years, renewable for a further three years.”the advisor told AFP by telephone.“This marks an important moment in our efforts to recover 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 the 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 sack of Abomey.

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