A California museum on Thursday (8 February) returned seven royal artefacts to Ghana’s traditional Ashanti king to commemorate his silver jubilee in the first planned handover of Ashanti treasures looted during colonial times.
The ceremony came as pressure grew for European and US museums and institutions to restore African artefacts stolen during the rule of the former colonial powers of Britain, France, Germany and Belgium.
The Ghana royal treasures from the Fowler Museum, including a gold necklace, an ornamental chair and an elephant tail whisk, were presented during a ceremony of chiefs at the Manhyia Palace in the city of Kumasi in the Ashanti region.
Royal Ashanti gold objects are believed to be invested with the spirits of former rulers.
The Ashanti monarch, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who holds an important ceremonial role in Ghana, said their return would help unite his people.
“What just happened confirms what occurred so many years ago when the British attacked us and looted our treasures,” he said. “Let’s remain united to bring about peace and development in the kingdom.”
The objects will be displayed at the Manhyia Palace Museum as part of the year-long celebration.
The move follows recent announcements by the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to lend gold and silver treasures looted from the Asante kingdom back to Ghana in a six-year deal.