Showing results 49 - 60 of 68 for the tag: Africa.

December 14, 2008

When will Western museums return their looted artefacts?

Posted at 1:56 pm in Similar cases

Kwame Opoku talks about the accusations from museums that there is no formal demand for the return of artefacts – when in many cases there is a demand, but the institution would prefer to ignore it or not acknowledge it as a formal request.

From:
Afrikanet

Will western Museums now return some of the looted/stolen artefacts?
Datum: 14.12.08 21:46
Kategorie: Kultur-Kunst

Von: Dr. Kwame Opoku

FORMAL DEMAND FOR THE RETURN OF BENIN BRONZES: WILL WESTERN MUSEUMS NOW RETURN SOME OF THE LOOTED/STOLEN BENIN ARTEFACTS?

“The restitution of those cultural objects which our museums and collections, directly or indirectly, possess thanks to the colonial system and are now being demanded, must also not be postponed with cheap arguments and tricks.”
Gert v. Paczensky and Herbert Ganslmayr, Nofretete will nach Hause (1)

We have often heard from those holding on to the looted/stolen Benin artefacts that there has not been any demand for their return by the owners. This is, of course, a blatant lie which often reminds one of an absurd theatre piece. A performer states clearly a view point and immediately thereafter, another character tells the audience that so far no such statement has been made. We have the remarkable situation in which the King of Benin, the Oba, writes in an introductory note in the catalogue of the exhibition Benin: Kings and Rituals -Court Arts from Nigeria requesting the return of some of the Benin cultural artefacts. Almost immediately thereafter, we have directors of four museums organizing the exhibition with the co-operation of Nigeria declaring in a preface that they have no intention of returning these objects and advising the Nigerians to forget the past and look to the future. (2) The Benin demand was also stated by the Enogie of Obazuwa, brother of the Oba, at the opening of the exhibition on 9 May 2008. Some months after the exhibition in Vienna, the show which went to Paris (October 2, 2007-January 6, 2008) moved to Berlin (February 7-May 25, 2008) and we had people from the Berlin Ethnology Museum creating the impression that there had been no request for the return of the Benin bronzes even though at the opening of the exhibition, the Nigerian Minister of Tourism, Culture and National Orientation, Prince Adetokumbo Kayode, had clearly stated the wish of the Nigerians to have back their cultural objects. (3) What kind of game is this?
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December 6, 2008

Ethiopia’s restitution demands

Posted at 1:47 pm in Similar cases

Following Ethiopia’s demands for the return of looted artefacts currently in Britain, Kwame Opoku loks at what this demand means for Ethiopia & other countries.

From:
Afrikanet

Datum: 05.12.08 11:15
Kategorie: Kultur-Kunst
Von: Dr. Kwame Opoku
Ethiopia: The Way in Demand for Restitution of African Artefacts
Ethiopian President shows the Way in Demand for Restitution of African Artefacts

According to a report in The Independent of 23 November, 2008, the Ethiopian President, Girma Wolde-Giorgis, has requested British museums holding stolen/looted Ethiopian cultural treasures to return them.

This is not surprising considering the enormous amount of Ethiopian cultural and historical objects that are in several British museums and universities. The real wonder is that these venerable institutions, including the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh and others, have not found it necessary in all these years to return the objects which were not made for the British but for the Ethiopians. What kind of message are these learned institutions sending to their students and the rest of the world? They do not seem to be worried that by holding on to these stolen goods they are not only violating the proprietary rights of others but also their religious rights and their right to cultural development. How can they properly practice their religion when their religious objects and symbols are kept by others with whom they have no cultural affinities, thousands of miles away? We have not found an explanation for how those who consider themselves as Christians can steal the religious symbols and objects such as Christian crosses from other Christians? Where is their morality in holding on to stolen religious symbols and objects?
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November 26, 2008

Ethiopia demands return of over four hundred stolen treasures

Posted at 1:43 pm in Similar cases

More coverage of Ethiopia’s request addressed to many of Britain’s leading museums, for the return of stolen treasures, seized from the country in 1868.

From:
The Independent

Ethiopia demands stolen crown back
By Andrew Johnson
Sunday, 23 November 2008

President writes to British museums to call for return of more than 400 treasures looted in 1868

Ethiopia is demanding that Britain’s museums return some of its most significant religious treasures. President Girma Wolde-Giorgis has personally intervened in a dispute to get the artefacts, including the Ethiopian royal crown, returned home 140 years after they were “looted” by marauding British troops.
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Ethiopia demands return of looted artefacts by Britain

Posted at 1:37 pm in Similar cases

Ethiopian president Girma Wolde-Giogis has requested of various leading museums in Britain, that they return artefacts that were looted from his country.

From:
Daily Telegraph

Ethiopian president demands return of ‘looted’ treasures held in British museums
By Stephen Adams, Arts Correspondent
Last Updated: 2:25PM GMT 23 Nov 2008

The president of Ethiopia has written to Britain’s leading museums to demand they return treasures he claims were “looted” in the 19th century.

President Girma Wolde-Giogis wants a number of pieces returned including an 18-carat gold royal crown.
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October 21, 2008

The lack of progress in Benin

Posted at 12:58 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The winds are starting to change for the reunification of cultural property held in the West, as evidenced by high profiles cases involving Italy, Greece, Ethiopia & others. So far though, Nigeria has not secured the return of any artefacts, despite the fact that the heritage of the kingdom of Benin sits in many of the West’s great institutions & was typically acquired in circumstances of questionable legality.

From:
Modern Ghana

DISSATISFACTION WITH LACK OF PROGRESS IN RESTITUTION OF BENIN ARTEFACTS
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Tue, 21 Oct 2008

The lack of reaction from Western holders of Benin artefacts to the several calls
by Nigerians for restitution is causing anger in many circles.

The report below deals with the renewed calls by the Benin National Council for restitution and a declaration of intention to resort to legal proceedings and what is described as “self-help”.
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October 18, 2008

What can be learnt from the Egyptian approach to restitution

Posted at 2:05 pm in Similar cases

Zahi Hawass has championed the cause of cultural property restitution in Egypt in recent years. What can other countries learn from his approach?

From:
Afrikanet

Written by Dr. Kwame Opoku
Friday, 17 October 2008
SHALL WE LEARN FROM ZAHI HAWASS ON HOW TO RECOVER STOLEN/LOOTED CULTURAL OBJECTS?

We may not all agree with Zahi Hawass in his style and manner of approach to the issue of restitution of stolen or looted artefacts but there is no denying that the famous Egyptologist, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, has been extremely effective in his tasks and knows his job. This is no mean feat in a period where some of those having the fate of millions in their hands do not seem to have mastered their jobs.
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October 12, 2008

The British Museum’s claims to the Rosetta Stone

Posted at 6:22 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Jonathan Downs, the author of Discovery at Rosetta, which I mentioned a few weeks ago, has kindly sent me the text of the concluding chapter of this book. This chapter looks at the case for the return of the Rosetta Stone to Egypt – both its legality & the arguments surrounding it. The case for the restitution of the Rosetta Stone has a lot of parallels with the Parthenon Marbles – their acquisitions were roughly contemporaneous, they both came from outposts of what was at that time the Ottoman Empire, They both ended up in the British Museum.

The author has also offered to respond to any queries that people make in the comments on this message.

From:
Jonathan Downs (by email)

The following is an extract from Discovery at Rosetta (by Jonathan Downs, Constable, 2008, pp.210-215) outlining the current status of the Rosetta Stone, the facts governing its legal ownership and its possible repatriation to Egypt:

THE ROSETTA STONE: A PROUD TROPHY?

Despite the Rosetta Stone’s public profile, historically its status as an exhibit in the British Museum has not been nearly as contested as that of the ‘Elgin’ or Parthenon Marbles. To many it is immediately recognizable and more memorable than the sculptures that were formerly part of the Athenian Acropolis. This is understandable; until the end of the 1990s the Rosetta Stone rested on an angled frame close to the entrance of the museum – unavoidable, it was one of the first objects to be encountered, and crowds of visitors have gathered round it for the past two hundred years. Cleaned by conservators, it now occupies an equally prominent position in the centre of the Egypt collection by the Great Court entrance, upright within a protective case, still one of the most famous objects in the world. Before the arrival of the antiquities from Egypt in 1802, the British Museum contained little grand sculpture, its halls filled chiefly with smaller curiosities. The acquisition of the Rosetta Stone and the cargo from the Alexandria victory was an important step in the development of the institution.
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October 10, 2008

What benefit does Africa get from collaboration in international exhibitions

Posted at 12:58 pm in Similar cases

In today’s globalised climate of art exhibitions drawing artefacts from around the world, much is made of the benefits to everyone of sourcing these pieces that might otherwise have not been seen. Is this something that really benefits the source communities though, or is it more of a one way process?

From:
Modern Ghana

DOES COLLABORATION BETWEEN NIGERIAN AND EUROPEAN /AMERICAN MUSEUMS BRING US CLOSER TO RESTITUTION OF NIGERIA’S STOLEN/LOOTED ARTS?
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Sat, 08 Nov 2008

As readers may know, many Africans are very suspicious of collaboration with museums and institutions that have shown by their history and practice that they do not care much for the interest and feelings of Nigerians and Africans generally. In the article below by Tajudeen Sowole, a Nigerian art critic raises several issues concerning the cooperation between Nigerian museums and institutions with European/American museums. In particular, he wonders whether the collaboration between the Nigerian institutions and American/European museums in the recent exhibition Benin: Kings and Rituals-Court Arts from Nigeria has brought us closer to the restitution of the Benin artifacts or whether these objects will remain in Europe under the pretext that they are part of the universal heritage of mankind.
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October 6, 2008

The museums of the West & the Benin Bronzes

Posted at 12:31 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

There are Benin Bronzes in what seems like almost every one of the large museums in Europe & the US. This article tries to summarise the key issues regarding their continued retention.

From:
Afrikanet

European and US American Museums and the Benin Bronzes
Written by Dr. Kwame Opoku
Sunday, 05 October 2008
TEN ESSENTIAL POINTS ON THE CONTINUED DETENTION OF THE BENIN BRONZES BY EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN MUSEUMS

The following are some of the essential points about the Benin bronzes that the reader must know and always bear in mind when reading about the looted cultural artefacts now in European and American museums.

1. Thousands of beautiful and fine Benin art objects were stolen by the British in 1897 when they illegally invaded Benin City, executed some nobles, exiled the Oba (King) and burnt the city.
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September 17, 2008

When will the West return Ethiopia’s treasures

Posted at 12:24 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Many museums of the west are filled with African artefacts – but in many cases, even cursory scrutiny of how the pieces were acquired shows that if it were to happen in the same way today, there were many laws that forbid it. But little is done today to help repair the damage that was caused by the actions of our ancestors – instead justifications of preservation & the importance of these artefacts as part of a collection are used as excuses for inaction.

From:
Modern Ghana

WHEN WILL WESTERN NATIONS RETURN ETHIOPIA’S STOLEN TREASURES?
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Tue, 16 Sep 2008

Probably very few countries have been so systematically and intensively deprived of their cultural objects with tremendous violence by Western European countries as Ethiopia has been. First, the British under Queen Victoria sent an army in 1868 to conquer the African country under Emperor Tewodros. The Ethiopian ruler committed suicide in Magdala, the capital, with a gun given to him previously as a gift by Queen Victoria rather than let himself be captured and humiliated by the invading British Army. The barbarous behaviour of the invading army after conquer and loot has been described many times. The list of objects stolen by the British, including processional crosses, imperial gold and silver crowns, historical and religious illustrated manuscripts and other objects from Ethiopia will fill pages. Ethiopia became Christian in the 4th Century, long before many in Europe had heard of Christianity.
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September 2, 2008

Are we any closer to restitution today?

Posted at 12:52 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

With many cultural property disputes, restitution is no closer now than it was twenty years ago. However the climate for restitution is currently more favourable than ever before.

From:
Modern Ghana

ARE WE GETTING CLOSER TO THE SEASON FOR RESTITUTION?
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Mon, 01 Sep 2008

At a seminar on Edo Culture organized by the Edo Community in Vienna on Friday 29 August 2008 where I spoke on the restitution of the Benin bronzes to well-informed and enthusiastic participants, the question was asked whether there was any hope of the British ever returning the Benin bronzes they stole in 1897. My answer was that even though we are no where near the season of restitution of the thousands of cultural objects stolen from Africa by the European powers – Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and Portugal – there has never been a more favourable climate for restitution than now. There are factors which should encourage the intensification of a search for solutions to this shameful phenomenon in international relations:
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August 18, 2008

Avoiding the subject of provenance

Posted at 12:43 pm in Similar cases

Even otherwise excellent books published by museums, can tend to gloss over how items came to leave their homelands.
If museums aren’t ashamed of how artefacts were acquired, then why don’t they discuss it clearly.

From:
Modern Ghana

ONCE MORE BENIN: REVIEW OF BENIN: ROYAL ARTS OF A WEST AFRICAN KINGDOM BY KATHLEEN BICKFORD BERZOCK
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Fri, 15 Aug 2008

This book corresponds to what I think the average visitor to an exhibition needs: a short introduction to the subject-matter, with illustrations and sufficient information for the reader to understand the significance of the theme without being burdened by too many pages.
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