Where are Africa’s ancient treasures? Stolen, for the most part: It’s a well-known fact that the Benin Bronzes were looted by British soldiers more than a century ago, and sold to collections around the world. A few have now been returned, others may follow.
But what about the Mandu Yenu throne from Cameroon? It’s in Berlin. King Njoya gifted the throne to the German Emperor Wilhelm II in 1908. But how freely was it given away?
Then there are older examples of human heritage from Africa. The Kabwe skull, found in 1921 in what is today Zambia, is more than a quarter of a million years old. Despite requests from the Zambian government for its return, it is still in London.
And a single, slender bone, is currently in a museum in Brussels, Belgium. The Ishango Bone, excavated in 1950, is believed to be the oldest ever example of the human understanding of mathematics. Some in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it was found, insist the former colonial power Belgium should give it back.
A report commissioned by France found that up to 90 percent of African artworks are held outside the continent. One man who is trying to get them back is the activist Mwanzulu Diyabanza.
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