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by Mildred Europa Taylor, at 08:44 am, April 04, 2018, History

Anger mounts as UK museum offers to return looted Ethiopian treasures on loan

One of several processional crosses that were among the items looted during the British campaign in Maqdala -- Photo: The Art Newspaper

Ethiopians are boiling with anger following news that a museum in the UK is offering to loan them their own treasures that were looted by British troops at the Battle of Maqdala in 1868.

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) said the treasures including a gold crown and a royal wedding dress, which were taken 150 years ago could be returned but only on a loan basis, meaning the ownership would remain with the museum.

It has been over ten years now since Ethiopia demanded a return of their looted treasures that are being held at various locations in England. Their request has since been rejected.

But ahead of a Maqdala exhibition at the V&A to mark the 150th anniversary of the siege and battle at Magdala, the museum’s director, Tristram Hunt has offered a compromise.

“The speediest way, if Ethiopia wanted to have these items on display, is a long-term loan … that would be the easiest way to manage it,” he was quoted by news site The Guardian.

His offer has angered many Ethiopians, who are wondering why a return of their own property that was looted should be complicated.

Instead of offering them their own treasures on loan, why not return them completely, is the question on the lips of many.

This development brings to the fore the debate about Britain’s acquisition of numerous African treasures. There have been many calls by countries and individuals for the return of these items that are considered stolen property.

Meanwhile, this is how people are reacting to the offer from V&A:

 

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