Posted by: Dr. Y. | March 6, 2019

Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros II’s stolen hair to be returned by UK

Tewodros_II_-_2

Emperor Tewodros II

Last week we talked about Germany returning artifacts stolen from a Namibian freedom fighter back to Namibia. This week, it is the UK which have decided to return the stolen hair of Emperor Tewodros II back to Ethiopia. I hope the Ethiopian government will not just take it at face value, but perform some DNA test of this hair to ensure that it is indeed that of Emperor Tewodros II (Looted Ethiopian Treasures in UK could be returned on Loan). The thing that bothered me about the article below, is that these museums say that they will return stolen artifacts only based on official specific written requests: most of the times when the British looted the different kingdoms, Benin City (Benin City: the Majestic City the British burnt to the ground) in Nigeria or Maqdala in Ethiopia, there were no survivors or very few among the locals. In the case of Maqdala in 1868, it is said that 15 elephants and 200 mules were needed to cart away all the loot from Maqdala.How could anyone have an inventory of all the things they stole? This is just another way of keeping all the loot, and never returning it to their rightful owners. Below are parts of the article; for the full article, go to  The BBC:

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Ethiopia_Crown looted

A crown from the Maqdala exhibition at the V&A in south-west London – looted in 1868. (Source: V&A Museum)

A British museum [National Army Museum] is to return a lock of hair that the Ethiopian government considers a national treasure.

It was cut from the head of Emperor Tewodros II, who killed himself rather than be taken prisoner by the British during their 1868 invasion of Ethiopia. …

Strands of Emperor Tewodros II’s hair were given to the National Army Museum in London 60 years ago. …

The museum told the BBC it had decided not to make photographs of the hair public out of respect, because the matter was “too sensitive”. The remains are described as two pieces “no bigger than the size of a two-pence coin”.

Tewodros II_Departure of British expeditionary force from Magdala 1868

Departure of the British expeditionary forces from Maqdala with the loot – Illustrated London News 1868

The National Army Museum has now agreed to return the artefact, but says it is not returning any other items of African origin.

It’s definitely not a precedent,” a spokesperson for the museum told the BBC.

That’s the only one that’s been requested. They have to be formal, written requests to the director with a case“. …

The move has reignited demands for the UK to return all the looted artefacts on display in British museums. …


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