Young prince Alemayehu — kidnapped from Ethiopia at age seven died in U.K. age 18
To The Rt. Hon. Theresa May,
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
We write to you as Pan Africans, Africans, Friends of Africa, and Friends of Ethiopians.
We demand that Great Britain return unconditionally the body of Prince Alemayehu who was kidnapped at age seven and taken to Britain after the defeat of his father at the Battle of Maqdala by an Imperial British army under the command of Gen. Napier in 1868.
We demand that Great Britain return unconditionally all the priceless artifacts, jewelry, manuscripts, royal crown and other items stolen by the Imperial British armed forces under the command of Gen. Robert Napier. The valuables, which are now on display in various U.K. museums belong to the Ethiopian people. They were plundered by the Napier army from Tewodros’s castle which was then burned to the ground.
Tewodros’s himself ended up dead, supposedly by suicide.
After being kidnapped and taken to Britain, Prince Alemayehu’s pleas through the decades that he be returned to his native Ethiopia fell on deaf ears. An object of curiosity to the British public during his forced exile from home, he died miserable and homesick at the age of 18 in Britain. Prince Alemayehu deserves a proper dignified African burial in the soils of his ancestors. Surely, your government can arrange the repatriation of his remains.
As for the priceless Ethiopian valuables, we were shocked by the arrogant and shameless statements made by Dr. Tristam Hunt the director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which holds some of the items.
As reported in The Guardian on April 3, 2018, Dr. Hunt said the stolen artifacts could be returned on long-term “loan” to Ethiopia. Why should the victims of theft and plunder have to “borrow” back their possessions?
Does this reflect the official policy of Her Britannic Majesty’s government? This would not be correct, morally, ethically, and under international law.
The theft was massive. As The Guardian reported: “Hundreds of artefacts were plundered from Maqdala and the emperor’s treasury cleared with 15 elephants and 200 mules needed to transport them.”
Here are our recommendations:
1. That Britain return unconditionally the body of Prince Alemayehu.
2. That Britain return unconditionally all the artifacts and other items stolen from Ethiopia by troops under the command of Gen. Napier during and after the battle of Maqdala.
3. That Britain agree to compensate Ethiopia a just amount for the period during which the artifacts belonging to Ethiopia were wrongfully held in Britain and/or displayed in museums and for kidnapping Prince Alemayehu. These monies can go towards the preparation of a special wing that would host the returned stolen artifacts in an existing museum in Ethiopia.
4. That Britain apologize for kidnapping Prince Alemayehu and for stealing the Ethiopian artifacts.
5. That Britain prepare a register of all artifacts stolen from Africa before, during and after the period of colonial conquest, in preparation for the return of all such artifacts to Africa. This process of returning stolen artifacts can be worked out with the African Union (AU).
The African Union in turn, under the leadership of its African Union Commission Chair, Mousa Faki Mohamet, should appoint a Committee of Experts to discuss with Britain and other former European colonial powers, the timeline for the return of stolen African artifacts.
This Committee should also prepare plans for an African Museum in Addis Ababa– named after Empress Taytu Betul, to honor her heroism and courage at the Battle of Adwa on March 1, 1896. She and Emperor Menelik and other Ethiopian generals defeated an invading Italian army seeking to colonize Ethiopia.
The Taytu Betul Museum of Africa could eventually house all returned stolen African artifacts; not only from Britain but from other European countries, the United States, and elsewhere.
The museum would attract millions of visitors from all over the world. It could also become a renowned educational center.
The museum could then, on its own terms and for a fee, loan to other museums –including to the Victoria and Albert– African artifacts.
This is the proper way; not the thief lending to the victim.
The revenues from visitors and from loaning artifacts would operate and maintain the Taytu Betul Museum of Africa. Any surplus could provide scholarships for students from African countries for training in artifacts and antiquities.
This is a win-win proposal.
We await your response Prime Minister Theresa May.
Link to Petition