Wednesday, July 17, 2024
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How do museums still justify keeping stolen artifacts?

If I want to see a wide range of African artefacts, my best bet is to apply for a Schengen or UK visa and take a $1,000 flight from Nairobi to Europe or Britain, where most of Africa’s material cultural heritage can be found is.

As many as 90% of sub-Saharan cultural artifacts are located outside the continent, according to a 2018 report commissioned by French President Emmanuel Macron. Indeed, a significant portion is housed in European and British museums.

Even after a trip to London, I’m sure I won’t get to see a few treasures: some Ethiopian altar tablets that have been hidden in a locked room in the British Museum for the past 150 years. The institution is being investigated by Britain’s information watchdog over allegations that it failed to disclose key details about the tablets in response to a freedom of information request in August 2023.



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