The first batch of seven objects looted during the third Anglo-Asante War of 1874 has arrived in Ghana.
Arriving aboard a United Airlines flight, they will be formally presented to the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II on Thursday, February 8th.
This presentation will take place at the commencement durbar marking the 150th anniversary of the war at Dwaberem, Manhyia Palace.
A delegation of three, led by Dr. Silvia Forni, Director of the Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles (where the objects resided for nearly 60 years), will make the official presentation.
The delegation also includes Dr. Rachel Raynor, Director of Registration and Collections, Dr. Erica Jones, Curator of the Africa Department, and Professor Kwesi Ampene, an external affiliate and Chair of the Music Department at Tufts University.
These returning objects were acquired by the Fowler Museum in 1965 from the Wellcome Trust, a major foundation operating the Wellcome Collection museum and library in Britain.
The Wellcome Collection was established in memory of Sir Henry Wellcome, a prominent British-American art collector and industrialist.
Discussions between the Fowler Museum and the Manhyia Palace regarding the objects’ return have been ongoing for several years.
Dr. Erica Jones, the Museum’s senior Africa curator, visited and met with the Asantehene last year.
In December, permission for the objects’ departure from California under a CITES permit was granted, paving the way for their repatriation.
Historian Ivor Agyeman-Duah confirmed this development, explaining that the objects are being permanently returned due, in part, to a change in University policy regarding looted items. This new policy allows for the return of such items to their original owners.
Mr. Agyeman-Duah also announced a new form of cultural cooperation under development. This collaboration will involve the Fowler Museum and UCLA, the Manhyia Palace Museum, and the College of Art and Built Environment at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
This initiative was envisioned by the Asantehene, who also serves as Chancellor of the University.
The seven returning objects go back to the period before Asantehene Kofi Karkari in the 1840s and include an ornamental chair of wood, brass, leather and iron; ten large beads worn as bracelet or anklet; strand of seed or bug-shaped beads; gold of an elephant hair, glass and silver; a royal stool ornament; a royal necklace and a royal stool ornament.