On Friday, there will be a briefing discussing Britain’s decision to return looted artifacts to Ghana, with some conditions.

On Friday, there will be a briefing discussing Britain’s decision to return looted artifacts to Ghana, with some conditions.

Good morning.

After being taken by forceful means by British troops over 150 years ago, two prominent museums in the UK have decided to return some of Ghana’s valuable possessions, known as the “crown jewels.”

The objects, which are considered a significant aspect of Ghana’s cultural identity, are being lent out instead of returned due to a UK regulation that prohibits national museums from removing items from their collections.

Experts are optimistic that the temporary loan of 32 Asante gold pieces by the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum for a period of three years will initiate discussions, both nationally and internationally, regarding the proper return of cultural and religious artifacts to their countries of origin.

The Asante gold deal, made following a meeting between King Otumfuo Osei Tutu II and King Charles, will be closely monitored by Athens and Nigeria. Athens hopes to regain possession of the Parthenon marbles, while Nigeria has been advocating for the return of the Benin bronzes.

Professor Dan Hicks, an expert in modern archaeology at Oxford University, expressed his approval of the agreement concerning the Asante gold. He believes that this is a positive first step in a longer process that will ideally result in valuable items being returned to their rightful owners. However, it is unlikely that this process will be swift or uncomplicated. Further comments from Professor Hicks will be shared after the news headlines.

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They are making every effort to return the items while remaining compliant with the law.

The Africa collection at the British Museum in London, Britain, 25 January 2024.

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“According to Nana Oforiatta Ayim, a special advisor to Ghana’s culture minister, the artefacts hold significant cultural and spiritual value. These include a sword of state and gold Akrafokonmu badges worn by officials responsible for purifying the king’s soul. Their return symbolizes the restoration of a piece of the nation’s identity.”

Ayim stated that lending the items to Ghana served as a positive beginning and a way to honor and remember the violence that occurred. The items will be exhibited at the Manhyia Palace Museum in Kumasi, the main city of the Asante region, in preparation for Osei Tutu II’s 25th anniversary celebrations in April 2024.

Why only take out a loan?

15 items from the British Museum and 17 items from the V&A will be exhibited at Manhyia Palace for a period of three years, with the possibility of extending for an additional three years. This is due to the restrictions set by the British Museum Act 1963 and the National Heritage Act 1983, which prohibit the trustees of prominent UK museums from permanently returning disputed artifacts in their possession.

According to Hicks, the museum community is pleased that there is progress being made in returning these items. However, this does not necessarily mean that loans will be the solution in every case, such as with the Parthenon marbles and Benin bronzes, and that returning stolen goods permanently and unconditionally may be the better option.

Many individuals in Ghana are dissatisfied with the current agreement, expressing their discontent through social media and local radio. They believe that the deal is comparable to a thief loaning back stolen items.

“A thief breaks into your house and steals your prized possessions. However, you are able to locate the thief and they reluctantly agree to ‘borrow’ them back to you. Can you believe it?” Lorraine King, a host on Colourful Radio in the UK, shared on X (formerly known as Twitter). “Interestingly, the UK will lend Ghana the crown jewels that were taken from them 150 years ago.”

Ayim recognizes that individuals are upset about the concept of taking out a loan, but remains optimistic that it will be the initial stage towards their eventual repatriation. “We are aware that the objects were forcefully taken and that they rightfully belong to the Asante people.”

Is it the British Museum or the Brutish Museum?

According to Hicks, he interprets the agreement as meaning that the British Museum and V&A are making every effort to return the items while still adhering to legal technicalities.

The UK is not following the trend of other nations, such as France and Germany, who have begun returning artifacts taken by colonial powers. In fact, France and Germany have teamed up to explore ways to return items from their national museums. Additionally, the Smithsonian in Washington has returned 29 Benin bronzes to Nigeria.

Although national museums are not able to give back their artifacts, private UK museums, such as those at the University of Cambridge, have returned Benin bronzes.

According to Hicks, in his recent publication The Brutish Museums: The Benin Bronzes, Colonial Violence, and Cultural Restitution, the government’s unwillingness to modify the law to permit national museums to return stolen artifacts contradicts the opinions of the majority of the British population and museum directors. (The Labour party has not shown interest in altering the law, but Keir Starmer has indicated his support for lending the Parthenon marbles to Athens.)

“Some government officials may see this loan deal as a temporary solution to end the current debate,” Hicks states. “However, I believe it will have the opposite effect and bring attention to the matter, causing the public to question what is morally correct.”

“When can we expect the law to be revised and the valuable items to be rightfully returned?”

What other articles have we been reading?

Angela Davis.

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  • ,

    Rokhaya Diallo praises Angela Davis, a renowned American thinker, author, advocate, feminist figure, and symbol of the fight for Black freedom, following the renaming of a French school in her honor. Clare Longrigg, interim head of newsletters, shares the news.

  • Satellites come out on top. Researchers have found four emperor penguin colonies in Antarctica that were previously unknown, thanks to the detection of their guano (excrement) from space. Adam Morton shares findings that increase the count of known emperor penguin colonies to 66. Rupert adds, “These recently discovered areas complete nearly all the missing pieces in our understanding of the distribution of these well-known birds.”

  • DS Derek Ridgewell was one of the most corrupt officers in British history: a known racist who targeted black men, protected by the police establishment. Simon Hattenstone spoke to the families of men wrongfully convicted, who waited nearly 50 years for their loved ones to be cleared. Clare

  • A recent study by Helena Horton reveals that skiers may be unknowingly contaminating ski slopes with harmful “forever chemicals” commonly found in ski wax. These chemicals have been linked to cancer and have been detected in the soil of popular skiing areas.

  • Skopeliti looks into the alarming trend of children being concerned about growing old and purchasing costly anti-aging products that they have seen on TikTok.


Yashasvi Jaiswal of India bats watched by England wicketkeeper Ben Foakes.View image in fullscreen

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The English cricket team, known for their positive attitude in the last couple of years, will need a lot of it in the next seven weeks as India dominated the first test in Hyderabad. Despite winning the toss, England scored only 246 runs in 64.3 overs, with Ben Stokes’ resilient 70 helping them stay in the game.

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The judge of Spain’s highest criminal court has stated that Luis Rubiales should face legal proceedings for the kiss he gave footballer Jenni Hermoso, following a preliminary investigation that determined the act was not consensual and was a surprise move by the former football leader.

The front pages

Guardian front page 26 January

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The top story in The Guardian is about the EU’s proposal to hoard medications, which could exacerbate shortages in the UK. The Financial Times reports that a court has frozen Mone’s assets as a crime agency looks into allegations of PPE fraud. According to the i, Labour leader Starmer has been cautioned that he must undo tax cuts made by the Conservative party or risk putting pressure on public services in the UK.

The Times published an article titled “Police Chief Blamed for Stabbings”, and the Telegraph also covered the story, featuring quotes from families of the victims of Nottingham murderer Valdo Calocane on its front page: “He Has Escaped Punishment for Murder”. The Mirror also discussed the issue with the headline “They Were Let Down”.

The Sun has reported on Bill Roache, 91, with the title “Corrie Bill facing bankruptcy”.

Something for the weekend

“Here are some top picks from our critics for what to watch, read, and listen to currently.”

Sofía Vergara in Griselda.

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Griselda (Netflix)

The creators of Narcos, a series about Pablo Escobar, have taken advantage of the opportunity and created a new six-part miniseries on Netflix called Griselda. Actress Sofía Vergara (also serving as executive producer) portrays the woman who became a feared drug kingpin known as the Cocaine godmother. The performances are all strong and the show is a thrilling and stylish experience. However, it also brings to light the real-life harm and suffering caused by this person. Lucy Mangan.


Rephrased: “People Who Are No Longer Present” by Future Islands.

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Can’t reword.

(The X Factor)

Behind the Scenes: Exploring The X Factor from the Inside (The X Factor)

All episodes are now available on BBC Sounds.

Rewording: The exciting beginnings of early reality television always offer interesting material, and as we reach the 20th anniversary of The X Factor, Chi Chi Izundu takes a look at it through a modern perspective. The show provides in-depth interviews with insiders and contestants who share their experiences and sacrifices for a chance at fame – and in some instances, how it was worth taking that chance. Written by Hannah Verdier.

Today in Focus

Michelle Mone.View image in fullscreen

Investigation of PPE Medpro involving Michelle Mone

Following the peer’s admission of fabricating her role in profitable government PPE contracts amidst the Covid pandemic, concerns arise about the future of her well-known lingerie business. David Conn provides an update.

Today’s featured cartoon by Ben Jennings.

The daily cartoon, created by Ben Jennings, is the featured piece.

Ben Jennings cartoonView image in fullscreen

The Upside

I have no notifications or comments to reword. However, I can reword the text: “Here’s a small piece of positive information to remind you that not everything in the world is negative.”

Coordinator of the supervised consumption room, Diana Castro, behind the container in the Chuto room, the only one in the north of the country, in Pasteleira, on 15 December 2023, Porto, Portugal.View image in fullscreen

A new “shoot-up” centre in Porto, where people can take drugs in a safe and clean environment, offers a rare ray of hope in the scourge of drug addiction. Three decades ago, heroin addiction in Portugal affected an estimated one in every 100 adults, and death by overdose or drug-related disease was commonplace.

In 1999, legislators in Portugal, driven by the belief that the “war on drugs” was unsuccessful, approved a drastic law that decriminalized obtaining, having, and using small quantities of drugs for personal use. Presently, Portugal’s progressive approach to drug possession is preventing deaths and has valuable lessons for other countries in Europe.

Register for a weekly summary of The Upside, delivered to your inbox every Sunday.

Bored at work?

Lastly, the Guardian’s puzzles are available to keep you amused all day long – with a variety of options on the Guardian’s Puzzles app for iOS and Android. See you on Monday.

  • Quick crossword

  • Cryptic crossword

  • Wordiply

Source: theguardian.com