Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Africa: It's Time to Return What Was Stolen by Muthoni Thang'wa, Nairobi

Who owns the past? There are efforts by some Kenyans to reinvent themselves and find value and meaning in a cosmopolitan world. In an effort to make peace with the past in Africa, there has been a call for repatriation of materials held in some of the largest museums in the world. In one of the most interesting debates going on in the world of heritage, the controversy pits mainly African, Asian and Middle East institutions against some of the most prestigious museums in Europe and America.

The debate is centred on materials that include human remains, art, jewellery and objects that are and have been held in the museums for a long time. Some of the articles are of great prestige and interest - the Egyptian mummies - while others are of outstanding monetary value such as gold pieces taken by the British in Kumasi in the then Gold Coast, present day Ghana, in 1874.

Africa is making great efforts to reinvent itself. It wants to understand and own her past and the material remains that are part of her long history of political aggression that has resulted in deprivation of cultural objects.
See the above page for the full story.

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