Tradition & Culture

Pursue Restoration of Looted Treasures- McCaskie To Asantes

The Head of the Centre of West African Studies at Birmingham University, Prof Tom McCaskie, has urged the Asante Kingdom to pursue the return of all treasures that were looted from Kumasi in 1874 and 1896.

These treasures including gold artefacts and gold dust were stolen by the British during their invasion of Kumasi twice before annexing it as a colony in the early 1900s.

Though efforts have been made to return the items, he posited that more must be done to compel the British for the course.

“It is time to put this episode in the past and reassert Asante Unity under the Asantehene and go forward into the future and I encourage Asante to pursue further the matter of restoration of the treasures that were taken in 1874 and 1896.”

The gold artefacts, according to history, were taken to Britain where they were auctioned off to various Museums.

Those taken during the Sagrenti War are housed in the Royal Collection in Windsor, the British Museum, the Ehrich Collection in the United States, the Glasgow Arts Gallery, the Royal Scottish Museum, the Scottish United Service Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum, according to research by Martha Judith Ehrlich in 1981.

Though some level of agreement has been reached with two British Museums for their return home, it is unsatisfactory as the items—fifteen from the British Museum and seventeen from the Victoria & Albert Museum—are only being loaned to their owners.

It is in this spirit, that the British historian is encouraging Asantes to pursue the course with much determination.

Prof McCaskie also alluded to some gold dust currently worth billions of pounds taken as part of the booty by the British.

The gold was part of a “great deal of money” kept in three different places, including Adakakase, Aburaso, and Breman, and was bequeathed to Kofi Karikari at the death of Nana Dua in 1867, he said.

“The amount of gold contained in Adakakase alone at Kwaku Dua’s death was in excess of 400,000 ounces. This in 1867 was worth 1.2 million pounds sterling. The current value of the Adakakase is somewhere over 2 billion pounds.”

This is not mentioned among things looted by the British “because it was a loot, a private loot and so it is separate from the cultural artefacts that Otumfuo is trying to retrieve for Asanteman”.

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