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Fatumas Voice Latest Questions

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Manser Thelua
Nyati

Should western museums return colonial cultural artifacts from Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific?

A large number of artifacts held in Western museums and libraries are known to have been appropriated over the ages through conquest and colonialism. The looting of African objects by anthropologists, curators, and private collectors took place in war as well as in peaceful times. It was justified as an act of benevolence; as saving dying knowledge.

Across Europe, Museums are rethinking what to do with their African art collections. Big royal statues from the Kingdom of Dahomey, in present-day Benin, are pictured in 2018 at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris.

While it appears that more artifacts will be making their way to their home countries, it’s unlikely that this will lead to empty shelves in European museums anytime soon. It’s estimated that 90 to 95 percent of sub-Saharan cultural artifacts are housed outside Africa. Experts who write papers for money admit that more students and scientists pay attention to this problem, but the right solution is hard to find.

The issue of repatriating museum objects has become an increasingly critical one in the museum sector. It was given additional weight due to a report commissioned by the president of France Emmanuel Macron in 2018.

Should western museums return colonial cultural artifacts from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific?

The Pokomo people of Kenya’s Tana River valley:
Foreign Policy Amid Black Lives Matter Protests, Is It Time to Repatriate Africa’s Looted Art-
Foreign Policy Amid Black Lives Matter Protests, Is It Time to Repatriate Africa’s Looted Art-
Just recently, Kenya’s Pokomo people ask the British to return what was stolen: Their source of power. The men and women, some claiming to be nearly 100 years old, gathered in a small courtyard to sing a hymn passed down to them by their forebears.

The Pokomo people of Kenya’s Tana River valley once worshiped a god represented on Earth by an awe-inspiring drum. That drum, the ngadji, the source of power and pride for the Pokomo, has been relegated to a storage room in the British Museum in London for 111 years. So why is the ngadji in a closet in London, rather than in Mchelelo, Makorani’s sacred grove along a bend in the Tana River?

The Ethiopian manuscripts aren’t artifacts:
They are important documents that could be used as textbooks in thousands of traditional schools in Ethiopia. By dispossessing people of their cultural artifacts, books and important religious and cultural relics, you dispossess them of their knowledge, history and philosophy. This has very concrete real-world implications. Some museums have started to try and acknowledge that their collections have uncomfortable histories tied to colonial violence. Repatriation is the return of art or cultural heritage, often referring to ancient or looted art, to their country of origin or former owners (or their heirs).

The Looting and Sale of Indigenous Egyptian Artifacts:
The Guardian Nigeria Looted Benin arts- Before the West returns themOpinion — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
The Guardian Nigeria Looted Benin arts- Before the West returns themOpinion — The Guardian Nigeria News – Nigeria and World News
Last month, Egypt has commemorated the 67th anniversary of the expulsion of King Farouk, the last conduit for British control and exploitation of Egypt, and the establishment of the Egyptian republic.

The generations who witnessed and participated in the struggle against imperial Britain are no longer alive. Yet widespread aversion to that earlier period still runs deep among Egyptian citizens and officials.

Christie’s—the London-based French-owned auction house of fine art and antiques—sold a sculpture more than 3,000-years-old of Pharaoh Tutankhamun earlier this month, it provoked anti-colonial sentiments and revealed Britain’s continued imperial and entitled worldview. Many indigenous communities and scholars will watch and remember how European authorities handle this dispute.

That the British government ignored the protests of an internationally recognized nation-state raises concern about what else colonial powers will continue to disregard.

Jamaica Joins Outcry:
Ancient Origins Billionaire Accused of Illegally Owning Stolen Antique Artworks – Ancient Origins
Ancient Origins Billionaire Accused of Illegally Owning Stolen Antique Artworks – Ancient Origins
African countries are not the only ones calling for the return of artefacts. Jamaica recently Demanded the British Museum to Return Artifacts Taken during Colonial Era.

Jamaica’s Minister of Culture Olivia Grange has demanded that the British Museum return objects and artifacts taken from the island nation during the colonial era when it was under British rule. The artifacts were received by the museum in the early part of the 20th century from a collection amassed by William Ockleford Oldman.

The Caribbean nation’s culture minister made a public call for the British Museum to repatriate ancient cultural artifacts taken when the island was a British colony, beginning in the 16th century until its independence in 1962. During a speech in the Jamaican parliament on Tuesday, minister Olivia Grange singled out the UK museum for holding several objects from Jamaica’s indigenous Taíno culture, few of which are on display.

Two objects of particular importance are a bird–man spiritual figure, and another of the rain god Boiyanel, which were each found in a cave on the island nation in 1792. “They are not even on display,” Grange said, according to the Jamaica Gleaner. “They are priceless, they are significant to the story of Jamaica, and they belong to the people of Jamaica.” She added that her ministry is working with the government of Jamaica’s National Commission on Reparations to see them returned.

In addition to the request from Jamaica, the museum has received similar requests from Greece and Ethiopia.

Why are the Colonial Artifacts still Hidden?
The big question however is, why are some of the colonial artefacts still hidden? Well, some of these Artifacts show the transatlantic slave trade’s inhumanity. The transatlantic slave trade was critical in connecting the economies of Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

For the British, the journey was triangular. Slave traders bought West and Central African slaves in exchange for goods, enslaved Africans were transported to the Americas for sale, and goods produced by the slaves in the New World was shipped back to England. It was a continuing cycle, and the human horrors of the practice has been well documented.

An estimated 17 million men, women, and children were snatched from their homes and shipped across the Atlantic for forced labor. A large percentage of those taken captive were young men and women of childbearing age, with elderly and otherwise disabled Africans left behind to cater to the local economies on the African coast.

From those deported, nearly two million died aboard the ships, and others suffered heavily from the inhumane conditions of the crammed forced travel. For the coming 400th anniversary of enslaved Africans arriving in the US, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo has declared 2019 as “The Year of Return,” and encouraged people of African ancestry, including African-Americans, to make the “birthright journey home for the global African family.”

FRENCH ANNOUNCEMENT from President Emmanuel Macron:
Museums in a number of Western countries are facing increasing pressure to return troves of artifacts in their collections to their countries of origin. Leaders from areas of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific that were once colonies have said they want the items — many of which were taken hundreds of years ago — to be given back. Similar requests have been made — and largely ignored — for decades. But a new crop of European leaders have recently begun to reevaluate the legacy of colonialism.

I am from a generation of the French people for whom the crimes of European colonialism are undeniable and make up part of our history,” announced Emmanuel Macron to a crowded lecture theatre at Ouagadougou University, in Burkina Faso, in November 2017. “I cannot accept that a large part of cultural heritage from several African countries is in France… In the next five years, I want the conditions to be created for the temporary or permanent restitution of African patrimony to Africa.”

French President Emmanuel Macron commissioned a report that recommended returning many of the 90,000 artifacts from sub-Saharan Africa housed in his country’s museums. Germany and the Netherlands have announced their own plans to return items. Several museums in the U.K. have loaned parts of their collections to museums in their country of origin.

British Still Reluctant:
Foreign Policy Amid Black Lives Matter Protests, Is It Time to Repatriate Africa’s Looted Art-
Foreign Policy Amid Black Lives Matter Protests, Is It Time to Repatriate Africa’s Looted Art-
“Western curators have long deployed a range of arguments to keep [the items]: that countries of origin don’t have the museum infrastructure required to keep the artifacts safe, to adequately care for them, or to offer access to the public. That it is not always clear to whom the artifacts should be given – the people they were taken from or the nation-state that exists now? ” — Kristen Chick and Ryan Lenora Brown, Christian Science Monitor

Some museums have started to try and acknowledge that their collections have uncomfortable histories tied to colonial violence. Nevertheless, Britain’s long-standing policy is not to cease ownership over its looted treasures. As then-Prime Minister David Cameron said of Greece’s Elgin Marbles and India’s Koh-i-Noor diamond: “No, I certainly don’t believe in “returnism”, as it were. I don’t think that is sensible.” The defense against “returnism” is the same defense museums give for their existence: they are custodians and conservers of humanity’s cultural and natural treasures.

The British, so we are told, were violent aggressors and expert political manipulators. Using their technological superiority and command of the seas, they subjugated cultures across the globe, applied the “divide and rule” policy to set ethnic and linguistic groups against one another, extracted resources for profit, and stole cultural artifacts that now collect dust in their museums. Thus, so the story goes, blame for many of the world’s current problems lies squarely at the feet of the British Empire, for which she should still be paying reparations.

The authors of an influential report on colonial-era artefacts, which recommended a restitution programme to transfer hundreds of items from European institutions to Africa, have criticised the British Museum for acting like “an ostrich with its head in the sand”. The Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr and the French art historian Bénédicte Savoy, who were asked to write the report by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, after he said the return of artefacts would be a priority during his tenure, said the British Museum was not addressing the issue.

Justification for Repatriation:
Repatriation seems the only way to address the historical injustice museums has caused. This is crucial to restoring the agency of Africans as producers of their own history. Repatriation helps address the historical injustice museums have caused and restores Africans’ agency as producers of their own history. This is why the calls for repatriation grow louder every day. A more serious problem is that the collections retain and perpetuate the stereotypical narratives Europeans had—and still have—about Africans.

Preservation is not the only answer to the question of what to do with the vast wealth of natural, cultural and intellectual items, including human remains, held in Western museums. Following repatriation, Africans should determine the worth and place of these collections. Not all artifacts need to be preserved and put on display. They are living sources of knowledge, objects of worship and expressions of life.

Perspectives:
“To the British Museum and others, even ill-gotten artifacts are now their property. The argument is a legal and utilitarian one: This is where the items are safest and most people will see them.” — Max Bearak, New York Times

“Western curators have long deployed a range of arguments to keep [the items]: that countries of origin don’t have the museum infrastructure required to keep the artifacts safe, to adequately care for them, or to offer access to the public. That it is not always clear to whom the artifacts should be given – the people they were taken from or the nation-state that exists now? ” — Kristen Chick and Ryan Lenora Brown, Christian Science Monitor

“The argument is often advanced that by coming to the West, these objects were preserved for posterity — if they were left in Africa they simply would have rotted away. This is a specious argument, rooted in racist attitudes that somehow indigenous people can’t be trusted to curate their own cultural heritage. It is also a product of the corrosive impact of colonialism.”

— Mark Hornton, CNN

“Their argument is basically: You Africans can’t protect your art. We know it because we stole it from you. … But if you’re that concerned about it, how about just making the museums in Africa better. Taking a tiny piece of that sweet colonialism money and build a museum in Africa you feel comfortable in.” — Trevor Noah, “The Daily Show”

“A more serious problem is that the collections retain and perpetuate the stereotypical narratives Europeans had — and still have — about Africans. … The power to select, name and decide the meaning of these items makes Europeans the authors of African history.”

— Yirga Gelaw Woldeyes, Quartz Africa

Western nations shouldn’t have the power to decide what is returned. “The suggestion that African people have to prove that they are worthy of their own cultural heritage is insulting and absurd.” — Christine Mungai, Al Jazeera. Museums should embrace a more honest narrative.

“We need a new type of museum: one that’s not afraid to admit it doesn’t have all the answers and actually welcomes critique and dissent, that will let in a multiplicity of responses and voices without defensiveness. We need a different script on acquisition, possession, and repatriation: it’s not enough to insist that finders are keepers.” — Alice Proctor, Guardian

Related Questions

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2 Answers

  1. Human beings are evil. No matter what we think, to them we were a prize. how often do you ever hear of someone returning a pize?

    Human beings are evil. No matter what we think, to them we were a prize. how often do you ever hear of someone returning a pize?

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  2. Yes they should. They are meant for the benefit of the countries from which they took them in the first place.

    Yes they should. They are meant for the benefit of the countries from which they took them in the first place.

    See less