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:
These important cultural items should be returned to #Ethiopia. Full stop.#CulturalHeritage #Archaeology https://t.co/rW3ouNVZWi
— Catherine D’Andrea (@CathyDAndrea99) April 3, 2018
Déjà vue all over again. Society of Friends of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies has been asking for the return of all of Looted items to be returned to Ethiopia for decades! https://t.co/DvaarWwJ8v
— Renaissance Council (@RenaissanceCou1) February 15, 2018
on that last thought, perhaps ethiopia should exchange lost british cultural artifacts for looted maqdala items: http://t.co/C599DjTbho
— Daniel Yacob (@ethiopic) October 6, 2013
@foreignoffice your priorities should include returning all #Ethiopia‘s & #Africa‘s #looted items you have at the @britishmuseum!
— Samuel M. Gebru (@SMGebru) November 17, 2010
RT @ethiopic perhaps ethiopia should exchange lost British cultural artifacts for looted Maqdala items: http://t.co/UKMXVqFW4L
— Isabelle Zaugg ኢዛቤል፡ዛውግ (@IsabelleZaugg) November 25, 2014
Much as I’m looking forward to seeing the #Maqdala treasures at the V&A later this month, I would rather see a concrete plan for their permanent return to #Ethiopia 150 years after they were plundered. Likewise for artefacts in the British Museum. #Magdala https://t.co/ua3Pmr1tTi
— Nick Branson (@NHBranson) April 4, 2018
@V_and_A Director argues about the “philosophical case for cosmopolitanism in museum collections”… ??
A diplomatic cover to the British lootings across the centuries. Enough with this joke! Return the loots!!#Ethiopia #Maqdala #victoriaandalbert https://t.co/eT4VGrBFWl
— Ilias Tsagas (@Ilias_Energia) April 3, 2018