UK returns historic sword to Ethiopia

A sword, looted by British troops 137 years ago, has been returned to Ethiopia, according to a leading scholar who also says that the UK should hand over many other stolen treasures.

    The British army massacred Ethiopian troops in 1868

    Historian Richard Pankhurst, who flew to Ethiopia with the weapon, said it had been in the possession of a theatrical props company in London.

    Pankhurst said he had identified it as a sword looted by British troops from Ethiopia over a century ago.

    The curved sword, valued at just under $9000, will be displayed at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies in the capital, Addis Ababa.

    "This gesture should be repeated by the various museums and the queen's library that are currently illegitimately holding priceless looted treasure from Maqdala," where British troops annihilated the Ethiopian army in 1868, the historian said.

    Objects for return

    Pankhurst has been leading the campaign for the return of hundreds of sacred objects and artifacts looted by British troops from Ethiopia on the rampage after defeating the
    Ethiopian army at the Battle of Maqdala in 1868.

    Among the most important items are a gold crown and chalice belonging to Emperor Tewodros II, about 350 manuscripts, 10 altar slabs and religious crosses.

    The items are held mainly at the British Library, the British Museum and the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, as well as at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

    Britain's royal family holds six religious manuscripts said to be the finest examples of Ethiopian manuscripts anywhere in the world.

    By far, the most valuable item is one of two copies of the Kebra Negast - or Glory of Kings - Ethiopia's holy book held in the British Library.

    The Ethiopian Church and government have been exerting diplomatic pressure on Britain to return the stolen items, which are cumulatively valued by Ethiopian campaigners at $3 billion.

    Britain says the law only permits repatriation of such items through a vote in Parliament. However, campaigners argue they could be returned on permanent loan without a vote. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Trump's Middle East plan: Decoding a century of failed deals

    Trump's Middle East plan: Decoding a century of failed deals

    Al Jazeera read all 181 pages of 'the deal of the century', comparing its language with 100 years of failed agreements.

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    As tensions over India's citizenship law shine a light on Assam, a writer explores the historical tensions in the state.

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    The story of a man who spent 19 years awaiting execution reveals the power of a false blasphemy claim to destroy a life.