Historic Agreement: UK Museums to Loan Looted Ashanti Treasures to Ghana

In a significant cultural development, a collection of treasures looted by British soldiers over a century ago from the Ashanti Kingdom in Ghana are being returned on loan. The artifacts, which possess immense cultural and spiritual value, are being loaned to Ghana by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) and the British Museum. This arrangement, which is not with the Ghanaian government but with the Ashanti king, marks the first time in 150 years that these items will return to the country, albeit temporarily.

  • The Victoria and Albert Museum and the British Museum are loaning treasures looted over a century ago from Ghana back to the Ashanti king.
  • The treasures, which include gold artifacts and culturally significant items, were taken during the third Anglo-Ashanti War in 1874.
  • Seventeen items from the V&A and fifteen gold items from the British Museum, including a sword of state, are part of the loan.
  • The loan deal is seen as a first step towards healing and reparation, acknowledging the impact of colonial trauma and the importance of cultural sovereignty.
  • The agreement is not with the Ghanaian government, which could not agree to the loan terms, but directly with Osei Tutu II, the current Asantehene (Ashanti king).
  • British law currently bans some national institutions from permanently returning looted objects.
  • The return is framed as a ‘renewable cultural partnership’ rather than restitution, with the UK government not yet involved in the process.
  • Objects being loaned are imbued with spiritual significance and are integral to Ashanti culture, including items such as a soul disc and a gold pipe used by Ashanti kings.
  • The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster headquartered at Broadcasting House in London. Originally established in 1922 as the British Broadcasting Company, it evolved into its current state with its current name on New Year’s Day 1927.

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