British Prime Minister Theresa May, what about African plunder and remains of kidnapped prince? Photo: wikimedia commons.
France has done the right thing announcing that it will return artifacts and valuables plundered from Africa starting with 26 pieces from Benin.
This is only the beginning. France holds about 90,000 artifacts from Africa. French President Emmanuel Macron is to be commended.
Now the U.S., U.K., Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Portugal and all the rest must all do the right thing and come up with policies for returning plundered African artifacts that are in the major museums and institutions in these countries. All except the United States were colonial powers in Africa.
All eyes should turn to the U.K. and Prime Minister Theresa May. In addition to plundered artifacts, Britain must return the remains to Ethiopia of Prince Alemayehu who was kidnapped at the age of seven when his father Emperor Tewodros II died at the Battle of Maqdalla. Gen. Napier led a British invasion and defeated Alemayehu’s father. The war, officially from the British side, was to rescue Europeans held captive by the emperor. Plunder more likely was the true objective judging by the scale of the looting.
France has also announced that in early 2019 there will be a meeting with African officials to discuss polices on stolen artifacts. It would be best for African nations to devise a uniform policy that would benefit the continent collectively. African nations through the African Union (AU) should create a world class Museum in Addis Ababa to display all the recovered and returned works. Funding to construct and staff such a museum can come from: African Diaspora and global art lovers; contributions from all AU member countries; and, contributions from the countries and institutions that had been holding the plundered artifacts.
The Museum could become a world class attraction and fees from visitors could generate significant revenues to support it and train young Africans in antiquities. This museum could be named in honor of great ancestors like Empress Taytu Betul for her role, fighting beside her husband Emperor Menelik II, when Ethiopia crushed an invading Italian army seeking to colonize the country at the Battle of Adwa on March 1, 1896