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Returned Looted Asante Artefacts On Display At The Manhyia Palace Museum

Ghanaians celebrate as 32 looted Asante artefacts from the Asante kingdom are finally on display at the Manhyia Palace Museum in Kumasi, marking a significant cultural moment.

Ghanaians have gathered at the Manhyia Palace Museum in Kumasi to witness the long-awaited return of 32 looted artefacts from the Asante kingdom, taken by British colonisers 150 years ago. The items, including the sword of state, gold peace pipe, and gold badges worn by officials, were welcomed home by Asante King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and his people.

Some of the returned Asante artefacts currently at the Manhyia Palace Museum

The artefacts, loaned to Ghana for three years by the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) and the British Museum, hold immense cultural and historical significance for the Asante people. The return coincides with the silver jubilee celebration of the Asantehene, adding to the symbolic importance of the event.

Otumfuo Admiring the Artefacts On Display At The Manhyia Palace Museum

Dr Tristam Hunt, director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, acknowledged the painful history surrounding the acquisition of these objects, tainted by imperial conflict and colonialism. The return of these treasures to Kumasi is seen as a powerful act of cultural exchange and reconciliation.

Among the returned items is the sword of state, known as the “mpompomsuo sword,” which holds great significance for the Asante people. It serves as a symbol of office used in swearing the oath of office to the kingdom by paramount chiefs and the king himself.

The effigy of Yaa Asantewa at The Manhyia Palace Museum
The Effigy of Nana Yaa Asantewaa

The return of the artefacts is significant but controversial, as UK law prohibits national museums from permanently giving back contested items in their collections. However, this loan deal is seen as a step towards allowing objects to return to their countries of origin, overcoming legal restrictions.

Some of the returned Asante artefacts currently at The Manhyia Palace Museum
Some of the returned Asante artefacts currently at the Manhyia Palace Museum

Ghana joins other African countries in reclaiming looted artefacts, with Germany returning over 1,000 Benin Bronzes to Nigeria in 2022. The return of these items signifies a broader movement towards addressing colonial legacies and restoring cultural heritage to its rightful owners.


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