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UK to loan back Ghana 150 years looted “Crown Jewels,” from the Asante Kingdom

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Two British museums, the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, are set to return gold and silver artifacts to Ghana through a long-term loan agreement. These artifacts were looted from the Asante people during Britain’s colonial battles in West Africa around 150 years ago.

The collaboration also involves the Manhyia Palace Museum in Ghana. The return is framed as an “important cultural” initiative, navigating around U.K. laws that typically prohibit the repatriation of cultural treasures to their countries of origin. This loan arrangement includes 17 items, such as 13 pieces of Asante royal regalia acquired by the V&A at auction in 1874. British troops looted these items during the Anglo-Asante wars of 1873-74 and 1895-96.

The museums acknowledged the cultural, historical, and spiritual significance of these objects to the Asante people. The artifacts are closely tied to British colonial history in West Africa and were looted from Kumasi during the 19th-century wars.

Despite this step, the loan covers only a fraction of the Asante artifacts held by British museums and private collectors globally. The British Museum alone states it possesses 239 items of Asante regalia.


Nana Oforiatta Ayim, special adviser to Ghana’s culture minister, considers the deal a “starting point” due to British laws prohibiting artifact return. However, she emphasizes the ultimate goal of returning the regalia to its rightful owners, drawing an analogy of someone ransacking a house, stealing objects, and then offering to lend them back.

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