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Ghana Celebrates Return of Asante Kingdom’s Looted Artefacts

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After 150 years, looted artefacts from the Asante kingdom are back in Ghana, on display at the Manhyia Palace Museum in Kumasi. Ghanaians rejoiced, welcoming home 32 items, including a ceremonial cap worn by courtiers at coronations.

The items, loaned to Ghana for three years by the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum, were part of the Asante kingdom’s heritage, looted during the 19th-century Anglo-Ashanti wars. The return coincides with the silver jubilee celebration of the Asantehene.

Dr. Tristam Hunt of the V&A Museum acknowledged the painful history surrounding the acquisition of these objects, tainted by imperial conflict and colonialism.

Among the returned artefacts are the sword of state, gold peace pipe, and gold badges worn by officials. The return is seen as a powerful symbol of cultural exchange and reconciliation.

The return, while significant, is also controversial due to UK laws that ban national museums from permanently returning contested items. However, this loan deal signifies a step towards overcoming legal restrictions and addressing colonial legacies.

African countries have been calling for the return of looted artefacts, with recent returns like Germany’s return of over 1,000 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria in 2022.

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