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British Museum agrees to return Ethiopian Emperor's Hair news



Correction 04/03/2019: An earlier version of this story reported that the two locks of hair that belonged to Emperor Tewodros II were exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V & A) exhibition. That was wrong. The hair was never displayed by the V & A. It was exhibited by the National Army Museum.

Two strands of hair from the widely revered Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros II will be returned on request by Addis Ababa, as the National Army Museum in the UK announced on Monday The Heritage they say was used decades or even centuries ago.

Last year, some of the Ethiopians started screaming at the British expedition from 1

868 to what was then Abyssinia for an exhibition by another institution, the Victoria and Albert Museum. During this campaign, in which 13,000 soldiers were deployed to liberate several British hostages, the Emperor killed himself and his fortress was captured and looted.

The then Ethiopian government said it wanted to use "all legal and diplomatic instruments" to secure the war, returning related items, including a complicated golden crown.

That another British museum, the National Army Museum, contained curls of the Emperor's hair was considered particularly sensitive. "The depiction of human parts in websites and museums is inhumane," said Ethiopian Minister of Culture and Tourism, Hirut Woldemariam, to The Associated Press last year.

According to this museum, the hair was donated in 1959 by relatives of an artist who had painted the artist emperor on his deathbed.

"Our decision to repatriate is based heavily on the desire to house the hair within the tomb next to the Emperor" in a monastery in northern Ethiopia, Terri Dendy, the head of the collection standards and the National Army Museum, said in an explanation.

"A good start"

It was not clear when the formal handover would take place. The Ethiopian Embassy in London said it will hold talks with the Museum of Repatriation on Thursday at the end of a one-year commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the Confrontation known as the Battle of Maqdala.

The message in a statement praised the museum's decision as an "exemplary gesture of goodwill," adding that "cheering euphoria is to be expected when (the hair) returns to its rightful home."
Now Ethiopians say that they have returned the bones of Emperor's son, Prince Alemayehu, who was brought to Britain and died there at the age of 18. He was buried at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.

The decision to turn the hair back on the emperor is "a good start" to encourage the British to look for ways to return our plundered antiques and also to the Ethiopian interest groups whose decade-long, painstaking efforts are actually bearing fruit "said Yonas Desta, director general of the Ethiopian Authority or research and heritage preservation, the AP said.

However, the bulk of the concern remains in the hands of the descendants of British soldiers, said Alula Pankhurst, a former professor at the Addis Ababa University and an expert on Ethiopia Studies.

"Some items in private collections have already been returned, but most of the items are in public collections within the UK and these can not be restituted without a parliamentary act requires something big People's opinions have to be changed and MEPs have to submit a bill, "he said last year. "This is something that can not be done overnight."

Some in Africa expect the return of heritage from institutions abroad to increase.

Late last year, a study by the French art historian Benedicte Savoy and the Senegalese economist Felwine Sarr. On behalf of French President Emmanuel Macron, France's museums recommended returning works that were accepted without consent at the request of African countries.

This could increase the pressure on museums in other parts of Europe to follow the example. Experts estimate that up to 90 percent of African art is outside the continent, including statues, thrones and manuscripts.


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