BY Stephen Nartey, 4:45pm February 09, 2024,

U.S. museum finally hands over looted artifacts to Ghana’s Ashanti King in historic ceremony

The Monarch of the Asante Kingdom, His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II. Photo credit: Manhyia Palace

A California museum has returned seven royal artifacts to Ghana’s traditional Ashanti king, marking his silver jubilee and representing the first planned handovers of Ashanti treasures looted during colonial times.

This event coincides with increasing pressure on European and U.S. museums and institutions to return African artifacts taken during the colonial rule of former powers like Britain, France, Germany, and Belgium. Ghanaian royal treasures, including a gold necklace, an ornamental chair, and an elephant tail whisk, were returned from the Fowler Museum and presented during a chiefs’ ceremony at Manhyia Palace in Kumasi, Ashanti region, according to channels TV.

The Royal gold objects are believed to embody the spirits of past Ashanti rulers. Ashanti monarch Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, who plays a vital ceremonial role in Ghana, noted that the return of the artifacts would contribute to the unity of his people.

“What just happened confirms what occurred so many years ago when the British attacked us and looted our treasures,” he said. “Let’s remain united to bring about peace and development in the kingdom.”

Ivor Agyeman Duah, an advisor to the king, said the objects were sacred. “Their homecoming signifies a pivotal moment of reconciliation and pride for our kingdom,” Duah told the AFP.

The ceremony, held near the 150th anniversary of the 1874 Anglo-Asante war, brought together traditional leaders, politicians, and diplomats, many attired in red and black to signify mourning. The returned artifacts had been in the Fowler Museum’s collection since 1965. Unlike other institutions negotiating with Ghana, the Fowler Museum imposed no conditions, leaving the decision on their usage to Ghanaian stewards, whether for museum displays, palace treasuries, or public celebrations.

Ghanaian royal historian Osei-Bonsu Safo-Kantanka said, “This is a special moment for the Asante people because it strengthens the bond between us and our ancestors.”

The returned objects will be showcased at the Manhyia Palace Museum as part of a year-long celebration. This action follows recent commitments by the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to loan gold and silver treasures, previously looted from the Asante kingdom, back to Ghana in a six-year agreement.

Neighboring Nigeria is also in talks to repatriate thousands of metal objects dating from the 16th to 18th century, taken from the ancient kingdom of Benin and currently held in museums and private collections across the United States and Europe.  

Two years ago, Benin received two dozen treasures and artworks that were looted in 1892 by French colonial forces.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: February 9, 2024


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