Ghana’s Asante king, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has urged the British Museum to return gold items that were taken from his palace many decades ago.
During a historic meeting between the Asantehene and the museum director, Dr. Hartwig Fischer, the Asante king requested a loan of regalia items that belong to his people, as reported by the BBC.
The British Museum currently houses over 200 Asante gold items and other regalia, which were confiscated by British forces during the Anglo-Asante wars.
In 1974, Ghana formally requested the return of these items and other regalia that British troops had taken from the Asante palace in Kumasi during the years 1874, 1896, and 1900.
The British Museum has been working in collaboration with the Asantehene and Ghana’s Manhyia Palace Museum to facilitate the return of these items.
A spokesperson for the British Museum informed the BBC that the institution is considering the possibility of lending some items from the collection to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the third Anglo-Asante war, as well as to support the upcoming celebrations for the Asantehene’s Silver Jubilee next year.
The Asante king’s call for the return of Ghana’s gold comes at a time when there are increasing demands for Western countries to repatriate artifacts that were looted during the era of colonization.
The Anglo-Asante wars were a series of conflicts that took place between the 15th and 19th centuries. The Asante people held significant wealth, trade dominance, and a reputation for being formidable warriors defending their kingdom against both local and foreign threats.
The Ashanti or Asante Kingdom was the most esteemed and powerful kingdom in the Gold Coast, which is present-day Ghana.
During the early 19th century, the British had established their presence in the Gold Coast, gaining control over the coastal regions and forming alliances with the Fantis.
However, in order to weaken Asante’s influence and eventually colonize the entire territory, the British needed to overcome the Asante, who had proven to be a formidable force in battles against both the Fantis and the British.