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US museum returns royal artefacts looted from Ghana 150 years ago

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A museum in California, United States, has returned seven royal artefacts looted 150 years ago from Ghana’s traditional Ashanti King to commemorate his silver jubilee anniversary on Thursday.

The return of the artefacts was the first phase of planned handovers of Ashanti treasures looted during colonial times.

The handover of the artefacts follows pressure being put on European and US museums and institutions to repatriate African artefacts stolen during the rule of former colonial powers, Britain, France, Germany and Belgium.

The royal Ashanti artefacts were held at the Fowler Museum of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and were returned to the King at his Manhyia Palace in Kumasi.

According to media report on the return, the king of Ghana’s traditional Asante kingdom, the Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, “received the seven royal artefacts that were looted from the kingdom nearly 150 years ago.”

“They include a gold necklace, an ornamental chair, two gold stool ornaments and two bracelets.

“Also in the list are An elephant tail whisk, which is a ceremonial piece that is held by someone of incredibly high status.

“The items have been hosted at Fowler Museum since 1965, but were looted by British forces from the Asantehene’s Manhyia Palace in the city of Kumasi, southern Ghana, in 1874.

“The return of the items comes less than two weeks after the UK’s British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum loaned back 32 items that had been looted from the kingdom, mostly in the 19th Century”, it added.

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Director of ‘Dahomey’ Mati Diop shines at Berlin Film Festival 2024

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Senegalese-French writer and and director of African documentary movie, “Dahomey,” Mati Diop, made history when her movie was selected for a special world premiere at the 2024 Berlin Film Festival.

She was joined by other directors of African descent including Gildas Adannou, Habib Ahandessi and Joséa Guedje at the premiere where Kenyan Hollywood actress, Lupita Nyong’o became the ever black person to head the festival’s jury.

“Dahomey” which is one of Africa’s entry in this year’s festival, is a documentary that explores colonization through the return of stolen artifacts plundered by French colonial troops and returned to Benin in West Africa.

Dahomey” follows the journey of plundered artifacts taken by French colonial troops in 1892, being sent from Paris to the Republic of Benin and the impact of their return.

Other African films selected for the festival include “Black Tea” by Mauritanian-born Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako, and “Who Do I Belong To” by Tunisian-Canadian director Meryam Joobeur.

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Tanzanians protest against Nyerere statue

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Some Tanzanians have taken to social media to protest against a recently unveiled statue of their founding father, Julius Nyerere.

According to them, the statue “does not look like” him.

The African Union (AU) had unveiled the statue in honour of the revered Tanzania founding president outside the Union’s headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital.

At the unveiling of the statue at a ceremony attended by numerous African heads of state, AU Commission leader Moussa Faki Mahamat said:

“The legacy of this remarkable leader encapsulates the essence of Pan Africanism, profound wisdom, and service to Africa.”

However, some Tanzanians have criticized the statue which they believe does not look like the pan-Africanist who led what is now Tanzania which was then known as Tanganyika, from independence in 1961 until 1985, a played a key role in the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which later became the African Union.

A user on X, Maria Sarungi, who expressed her disappointment at the statue wrote:

“I know the gesture counts the most, but this statue’s face bears little or no resemblance to Mwalimu Nyerere (old or young),” she wrote.

Another user who was not happy with the simply said:

“That is not our Nyerere.”

Known as Mwalimu, a Swahili word for teacher, Nyerere is remembered for uniting the country made up of more than 120 different ethnic groups, including Arab, Asian and European minorities.

He did this by promoting the use of Swahili as a common language and through his vision of Ujamaa (Familyhood) and his version of “African Socialism.”

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