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Kenyan cultural property

More information on the request by Kenya for the return of numerous cultural artefacts from museums & institutions around the world.

ArtInfo [1]

Kenya Demands Return of Significant Artifacts
Published: August 6, 2008

NAIROBI—Kenya is asking for the return of artifacts of significant national importance that are currently owned by museums in the United States and England, the Independent reports. More than 2,000 artifacts housed in the British Museum and thousands more held by U.S. museums and in private collections are being compiled by Kenyan officials into a list of significant objects that the country wants repatriated.

In the past, attempts by Kenya to get artifacts returned were countered by arguments that the country did not have suitable facilities for them. But last month, the new National Museum, whose renovation was financed by the European Union, opened in Nairobi, and Kenyan heritage officials now insist that they can care for all types of objects.

They do stress, however, that they will not request the return of all Kenyan artifacts. “The blanket return of objects to their home countries would discourage cultural tourism,” said Idle Omar Farah, director general of Kenya’s National Museums. “We want people in Britain to see Kenyan artifacts at their own museums — but the most important ones must come home.”

Among the items Kenya is asking for are the remains of Koitalel arap Samoei, a leader of the Nandi tribe who fought the British at the turn of the 20th century and is seen by many Kenyans as the country’s first freedom fighter. Kenya’s president, Mwai Kibaki, said, “These are crucial aspects of our historical and cultural heritage, and every effort must be made to bring them back.”