Sun 11 February 2024:
The Fowler Museum in Los Angeles, California has returned seven royal artifacts to Ghana’s Ashanti king, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, in a ceremony that marks a significant step towards the repatriation of cultural treasures looted during colonial times.
The Thursday handover coincided with the king’s silver jubilee, making it a doubly momentous occasion for the Ashanti people of the West African nation.
The returned artifacts include a black gold necklace, a royal gold crown, and a stool, which were looted by British troops during the Sagrenti War in 1874 and eventually found their way to the museum on the campus of the University of California.
The return of these items represents a small but meaningful step towards correcting the historical injustices inflicted on indigenous cultures by colonial powers.
Unidentified member(s) of gold workers’ guild (Asante peoples, Kumasi, Ghana), Royal necklace (gorget) or stool ornament; Before 1874; goldFowler Museum at UCLA, Gift of the Wellcome Trust
Otumfuo Osei Tutu II expressed his gratitude for the return of the artifacts, acknowledging the significance of the gesture for the Ashanti people.
“What just happened confirms what occurred so many years ago when the British attacked us and looted our treasures,” Otumfuo Osei Tutu II said at the ceremony.
Unidentified member(s) of gold workers’ guild (Asante peoples, Kumasi, Ghana), strand of seed or bug shaped beads, single whole bead, and a gold disk, worn as a bracelet or anklet, before 1874, gold and cordage fiberFowler Museum at UCLA, Gift of the Welcome Trust
“Let’s remain united to bring about peace and development in the kingdom,” he added, stressing the importance of unity in the face of historical adversity.
Unidentified member(s) of gold workers’ guild (Asante peoples, Kumasi, Ghana), ten large beads worn as bracelet or anklet, before 1874, gold and cordage fiberFowler Museum at UCLA, Gift of the Wellcome Trust
The return of the artifacts is part of a broader effort to repatriate looted treasures, with a second batch of 32 items set to arrive from leading cultural institutions in the United Kingdom, including the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, in April.
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