Showing results 1 - 12 of 64 for the tag: Modern Ghana.

March 16, 2012

London riots & the Benin Empire

Posted at 1:53 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

Following on from the comments made before about the London Riots, this article looks at how they compare to the looting of Benin in 1897 by British forces.

From:
Modern Ghana

Of Youths, London Riots, Benin Empire et al
By Augustine Togonu-Bickersteth
Feature Article | Sat, 20 Aug 2011

Example is better than precept so we should tell my Kid Brother, David Cameron, Prime Minister of United Kingdom in response to his utterances following the London riots characterised by looting and Arson following the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by the London Metropolitan Police.

Those Youths and Arsonists are now being tried in Courts of Law for stealing things like Ice cream, Chewing Gum and Table Water. Some of the Youths are being charged for taking more tangible things like Ipods, Ipads,Lap Tops and Flat screen Televisions sets
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January 31, 2012

More Dogon artefacts are in the Musée du Quai Branly than in Mali’s national museum

Posted at 2:03 pm in Similar cases

Many museums jealously guard their large collections of artefacts sourced from far corners of the world, pleased with the number of visitors that are drawn to their institutions to see them. Surely though, when it ends up that the foreign museums have more of a cultures artefacts that the national museums in their home country have, isn’t it time to re-think whether the balance needs to be redressed?

From:
Modern Ghana

MORE DOGON IN MUSÉE DU QUAI BRANLY, PARIS THAN IN NATIONAL MUSEUM, BAMAKO?
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | 16 hours ago

“Malian cultural heritage has for several decades, undergone a massive transfer toward Europe and the United States. Analyzing the phenomenon in its universality, it seems very clearly to be the translation of an unequal relation between poor (weak) and wealthy (powerful) nations. The cultural assets of poor nations are being exported to rich nations. Examples to the contrary do not exist”.

There is no doubt that the current exhibition at the Musée du Quai Branly, entitled, “Dogon” is the most comprehensive and definitely one of the best exhibitions on the well-known culture of the Dogon, Mali. The exhibits are all so impressive that one cannot easily pick out any objects as more interesting and show them to readers, especially Africans who may not be able to visit this excellent exhibition in view of existing restrictions placed on Africans seeking to visit Europe. In any case, France would not accept as ground for requesting a visa for France, the current exhibitions on Dogon, Angola and Voodoo in Paris.
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December 6, 2011

Austrian auction house plans to sell African art despite unclear provenance

Posted at 1:56 pm in Similar cases

The Auction House, Dorotheum in Vienna is planning a sale of Austrian artefacts, despite the fact that the provenance of some of the artefacts seems unclear.

From:
Modern Ghana

AUCTION OF AFRICAN ART BY DOROTHEUM, VIENNA: BUT WHAT ARE THE PROVENANCES OF THE ARTEFACTS?
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Tue, 03 May 2011

Dorotheum, an auction house in Vienna, Austria has announced for 3 May, 2011, an auction of African art objects from the collection of the late Prof. Dr.Ludwig Leopold (1925-2010), founder of the Leopold Museum in Vienna.(1)

The announcement refers to”Tribal Art of Africa, objects from the unknown Collection of Prof. Dr. Rudolf Leopold”. Indeed, very few persons were aware that Dr. Leopold, collected African artworks. The Leopold Museum and Rudolf Leopold are well-known for their collections of modern European art, especially, the Vienna avant-garde – Gustave Klimt, Oskar Kokoschka and Egon Schiele. However the names of Dr. Leopold and his museum have been recently largely associated in the minds of many with the various attempts to deny to successors of those persons whose artworks were looted by the Nazis or were forced to sell them at ridiculous prices. The museum did not willingly return artworks in its collections with Nazi tainted history and legal battles had to be fought before such cases could be settled. (2) Leopold and his museum did not give in easily to claims for restitution of Nazi-looted art objects.
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November 10, 2011

Followup to the Benin Idia mask auction

Posted at 1:43 pm in Similar cases

An interesting follow-up to the abandoned auction of a mask from Benin, whose ownership was disputed.

From:
Modern Ghana

Queen-Mother Idia and Others Must Return Home: Training Courses are no Substitutes for Looted Treasures
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Wed, 16 Mar 2011

At the height of the protest organized by the Nigeria Liberty Forum against a proposed auction of a Queen-Mother Idia hip-mask by the Galway family at Sotheby’s in December 2010, it was reported that the Nigerian government was in discussions with British authorities about restitution of the Benin bronzes and that a body was to be set up in Nigeria which would be charged with the responsibility of securing the return of looted artworks that are in foreign hands. Tribune reported (1) that, “the Federal Government is seeking diplomatic option to end the controversy surrounding the reported planned sale of the prized art objects.” The Tribune stated further that “The source disclosed that President Jonathan had given instructions to the effect that no effort should be spared to get the Benin arts, as well as other such artefacts that symbolised the pride of Nigerians and their rich cultural heritage. The president also ordered that machinery should be set in motion to get the artefacts repatriated into the country.

On the nature of the president’s intervention, the source said appropriate officials that would handle the matter had been contacted and were expected to take the matter to the highest level of authority in Britain, adding that “we are ready to pursue the matter to the highest level.”
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March 17, 2011

When will Germany deal seriously with Egypt’s requests for the Nefertiti bust return?

Posted at 1:45 pm in Similar cases

Despite repeated requests, various museums holding Egyptian artefacts seem reluctant to ever enter into any sort of serious negotiations over the disputed pieces, instead meeting any return requests with an immediate rebuttal.

From:
Modern Ghana

NEFERTITI IN ABSURDITY: HOW OFTEN MUST EGYPTIANS ASK GERMANS FOR THE RETURN OF THE EGYPTIAN QUEEN?
By Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Fri, 28 Jan 2011

“On the other hand, even after giving away the colourful bust of Nefertiti, the Berlin Museum would still be far superior to all other collections, including that in Cairo, as regards the number and artistic value of the artworks from the Amarna period. And among our stock are many pieces that are of higher artistic rank than the elegant bust of the colourful queen”.
James Simon, 28 June 1930 (1)

The latest argument for detaining Nefertiti is clear evidence that the holders of the cultural property of others have no valid reason for depriving them of their cultural symbols. (2)
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March 13, 2011

Why now is the time for the return of Montezuma’s crown to Mexico

Posted at 4:11 pm in Similar cases

Kwame Opoku writes about the case of the crown of Montezuma, currently held by Austria. Mexico has been seeking the return of this artefacts for a number of years now, although Austria claims that it was legally acquired.

From:
Modern Ghana

>NOW IS THE TIME FOR AUSTRIA TO ACT ON THE RESTITUTION OF MONTEZUMA’S CROWN TO MEXICO
Author: Kwame Opoku, Dr.

27-01-11

According to information in the Austrian papers Standard, Kurier, and Kronen Zeitung, Austria seems finally willing to return the Montezuma Crown which Mexico has been claiming for decades without any success. (1) It appears the return will be a temporary loan in exchange for a temporary loan of a gilded carriage used by Emperor Maximilian I in the nineteenth century that is now in the National Museum of Mexico.

We have always been of the view that Austria should return this artefact which means very little to Austria (2) and a lot more to Mexico, the only State that protested against the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. This act alone, in our opinion, should be sufficient ground for returning Montezuma’s crown. But the Austrian authorities, misled by the ideas of the ethnologists, museum directors and the false prophets in the British Museum, Berlin, Chicago and elsewhere, have up to now refused to contemplate the eventuality of returning the crown. (3)
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February 11, 2011

Nigeria’s artefacts in museums abroad

Posted at 3:16 pm in Similar cases

Since Nigeria’s independence from Britain, over 50 years ago, their government has asked for the return of various artefacts – but so far with little success.

From:
Modern Ghana

EXCELLENCE AND ERUDITION: EKPO EYO’S MASTERPIECES OF NIGERIAN ART
Author: Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Sun, 16 Jan 2011

For many of us, the name Ekpo Eyo has come to stand for excellence and erudition. The first Director-General of the Nigerian Commission for Museums and Monuments, has produced several articles and books of the highest quality on Nigerian art, and his recent book, From Shrines to Showcases: Masterpieces of Nigerian Art, (2010, Federal Ministry of Information and Communication, Abuja) is no exception. It is a masterpiece in its own right.

After an introduction to Nigerian art that gives the historical background of the arts and archaeological art, the introduction deals with accounts of discoveries and examines issues in the preservation and conserving of Nigerian cultural heritage. I enjoyed thoroughly Eyo’s discussion on what art is and the early Western views of African art as well as the topic of primitivism, tribality and universalism:
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February 1, 2011

At what stage will Britain consider the return of looted Ghanaian artefacts

Posted at 2:13 pm in Similar cases

The Wallace Collection in London holds Asante regalia, that is discovered as the largest gold work from anywhere in Africa outside Egypt. This regalia was however taken, during the course of a British invasion in 1873. Cases such as this highlight that it is not just the larger museums in the UK that hold disputed artefacts, but also many of the smaller ones. One wonders whether if these smaller museums that are less heavily regulated were to agree to return some of the disputed items in their collections, then it would persuade the larger institutions to follow their example.

From:
Modern Ghana

WHEN WILL BRITAIN RETURN LOOTED GOLDEN GHANAIAN ARTEFACTS? A HISTORY OF BRITISH LOOTING OF MORE THAN 100 OBJECTS
Author: Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Wed, 05 Jan 2011

A recent visit to London reminded me that apart from the British Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum many other museums in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom are still holding onto African cultural artefacts which, to put it very mildly, were removed from the continent under conditions and circumstances which can be considered as questionable. One such museum is the Wallace Collection, London. (2)

Once in the museum, our attention was drawn to the Asante golden trophy head and swords which are displayed in the Wallace Collection. This spectacular piece of the Asante regalia looted by the British has been described by Fagg as “the largest gold work known from Ashanti or indeed from anywhere in Africa outside Egypt”. (3)
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January 27, 2011

Was the decision to cancel the Benin mask based on moral principles, or merely a tactical withdrawal?

Posted at 2:10 pm in Similar cases

Kwame Opoku reflects on the cancellation of the planned auction of a disputed Benin mask by Sotheby’s.

From:
Modern Ghana

REFLECTIONS ON THE ABORTIVE QUEEN-MOTHER IDIA MASK AUCTION: TACTICAL WITHDRAWAL OR DECISION OF PRINCIPLE?
Author: Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Sun, 02 Jan 2011

The cancellation notice of the auction of Queen-Mother Idia mask on 4 December by Sotheby’s could not have been shorter:

“The Benin Ivory Pendant Mask and other items consigned by the descendants of Lionel Galway which Sotheby’s had announced for auction in February 2011 have been withdrawn from sale at the request of the consignors (2).
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December 23, 2010

Were the disputed artefacts glossed over in the History of the world in 100 objects?

Posted at 2:01 pm in British Museum, Similar cases

The BBC’s series – A history of the world in 100 objects covered various artefacts whose ownership was disputed, many people aren’t happy with the way that this fact was only given cursory coverage, focussing on the artefact rather than its history.

From:
Modern Ghana

An Akan drum and the British Museum’s history of the world
Columnist: Kofi Amenyo

So it is true that human beings and human culture began in Africa, eh? Homo sapiens evolved in Africa at least 150,000 years ago. The fact was brought home to us again when the director of the British Museum (BM), Neil MacGregor, in collaboration with BBC, selected 100 items from the museum’s vast collection to tell the history of the world in a hundred 15-minute programmes on Radio 4.

Human life started in Black Africa – specifically in present day Tanzania. When the narrator tells us that “we all have Africa in our DNA” one feels proud to be African. Two items at the beginning of the series (2 and 3) were from the East African Rift Valley: the Olduvai Stone Chopper and the Olduvai Handaxe. Both have the distinction of being the oldest objects in the BM. They are 1.8 million years old!
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November 22, 2010

Should aesthetic considerations regarding looted artefacts take precedence over human rights?

Posted at 2:08 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Kwame Opoku responds to the article by Tom L Freudenheim that I posted a few weeks ago.

From:
Modern Ghana

SHOULD AESTHETIC CONSIDERATIONS TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS WITH REGARD TO LOOTED ARTEFACTS?
Columnist: Kwame Opoku, Dr.

We read with great interest an article by Tom L. Freudenheim, a former art museum director and former assistant secretary for museums at the Smithsonian Institution entitled “What Is Lost When Works are Trophies” that first appeared in the Wall Street Journal of January 27, 2010 (1) and was reproduced in Elginism (2) on September 28, 2010 under the heading “Disputed artefacts – famous for being famous…”

The article contains statements which deserve close examination. The first sentence surprised me:

“It’s interesting to contemplate how works of art, which museums generally want us to appreciate for their aesthetic values, can turn into trophies: emblems of issues or events that have nothing to do with their status as art.”
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October 19, 2010

Who suffers when cultural property is returned

Posted at 1:27 pm in Similar cases

Kwame Opoku comments on Michael Kaput’s article about where artefacts belong.

From:
Modern Ghana

DOES HISTORY SUFFER WHEN CULTURAL ARTEFACTS ARE RETURNED?
Columnist: Kwame Opoku, Dr.
Feature Article | Sun, 15 Aug 2010

This is a question that may surprise many and indeed many may consider it wiser to leave unanswered rather than hazard untenable answers. Michael Kaput has some views on this issue which he expresses in an article entitled, “Whose Heritage? Repatriating ancient treasures seems like a noble cause, but history might end up the loser.” The article has been reproduced in Elginism, a leading website devoted to the question of restitution, especially, the restitution of the Parthenon/Elgin Marbles. (1)

Kaput does not give us any definition of history. If we take history as record of events and developments within a time framework, it becomes difficult to see why the return of the bust of Nefertiti from Berlin to Cairo should be a loss to history. Did history suffer when the Egyptian queen was moved from Egypt to Germany? Or does history only suffer when artefacts are returned from their present locations in the West to their countries of origin?
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