AFRICANGLOBE – ON SHOW: Ivory mask, probably 16th century AD, is on view at the British Museum
Interesting to see that movie star George Clooney is demanding that the famed Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece from whence they were plundered. It’s not surprising that the star is making his views known in this way because, after all, he’s vocally political and what he says carries clout. I doubt very much, though, whether even his star appeal can convince the British Museum to give up its illicitly appropriated treasures.
Despite Clooney’s efforts I couldn’t help thinking, ‘George, what about the Benin Mask and any number of other artefacts that were pillaged from the African continent?
Come to think of it, why are none of those top Black movie stars that we are praising left, right and centre, not demanding the return of Africa’s treasures that were robbed by the British criminals?
The British Museum is no more than a thieves’ kitchen of plundered African history and treasures and a continual colonial power over African culture. That is our history you see there in the museum. That is our culture. Is it any wonder that Africa is the state it is in when our history and culture is on display thousands of miles away in the centre of London?
But I don’t even blame the British Museum for hanging on to it. There has been no concerted effort beyond African countries begging to have their artefacts returned, but who is going to give a profile to the Nigerian government’s requests. If some of those big stars of Hollywood were to get together and demand the return of African history to where it rightfully belongs (and don’t forget these artefacts were pilfered, robbed, stolen) we could see some action.
When he wins his Oscar next week Chiwetel Ejiofor needs to stand up on the podium and demand that those artefacts are returned. I know he will have to thank quite a few people and, of course, his mum too for all her support. But after that, Chiwitel, why not demand that the British Museum gives our people back what is rightfully ours?
And not just Chiwetel alone. It would be good if we could hear the likes of Will Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, Oprah Winfrey and all the top supes from Hollywood stand up strong and demand the return of those artefacts. It could trigger a worldwide movement the like of which even the British Museum would have to bow to. We should be picketing outside the museum and African governments should be funding groups over here to stage sit-ins and the like in the museum until it relents and returns our history that was robbed.
By: Dotun Adebayo