Dear Colonizers, Return The Goods You Stole, Because It’s The Right Thing To Do
So — I was greeted by the headline below while exploring my timeline on a damp and cloudy morning:
Looted Ethiopian treasures in UK could be returned on loan
Victoria and Albert Museum director says artefacts could be sent to Africa on long-term loan
After diving into what was sure to be a controversially rugged territory — I came up for air and allowed the maze of words to assemble accordingly — so I could convince myself that I wasn’t internalizing fiction.
It appears that there are many levels of White privilege — and it’s no secret that the British do it better. As a Nigerian who spent her childhood amongst the remnants of colonial territory — I often pondered why we never bothered replacing Lugard Avenue with the moniker of a worthier patriot. Wasn’t it enough that they had brutalized our legacy with the infiltration of items that were meant to keep us forever debilitated?
How do you forgive the White man for the ultimate deceit that was presented under the guise of God and civilization — wrapped into one?
We were flourishing with the dignity of our tribal customs — that were breathed into existence through the primal pangs of the earth — as we coded our messaging with the genius of organic tendencies — and secured the visible bonds of embedded symbols on our bodies and souls.
Then the invaders arrived and challenged those that were tasked with protecting us. Our beliefs were stripped to the bare minimum as the scribe of what we had become was disfigured — and despite the fight — we succumbed to the teachings of Christ and the acceptance of an inferior mode of communication that was meant to cripple us.
It was all a rouse to implement the massacre of a people that left trails of the resources that are still being used as the weapon of mass destruction.
The British only cared about reducing indigenes into an unrecognizable puddle of shit while robbing us blind in the process. In order to convince sub-humans that they’re not capable enough to adequately fend for themselves with the assistance of riches under and above ground — you have to mind fuck them into the trap of self-hate.
You have to silently admire — while loudly mocking their insecurities. You have to make them fully grasp their inferior composition by thrusting the falsehood of your superiority. You have to threaten them with extinction from their own land and force them to labor on behalf of your God and country. You have to motivate your hostages to willingly serve you and encourage your quest to create the lifelong enslavement that will render them incapacitated — till kingdom come.
The most successful heist in recorded history is the reason why my country — Nigeria — is the biggest shithole of all. Colonizers disorganized our history and scorched the path that we had set out to conquer. They stole our goods and services and still continue to support criminal activity — at the expense of natives who can’t afford basic amenities because of the vileness of oil exploitation.
There’s also the valuables that were taken without permission — that are now housed in various institutions that are under the tutelage of wealthy White patrons — who somehow feel entitled to something that never belonged to them in the first place.
This takes me back to the article in The Guardian — about the priceless gems from Ethiopia that were stolen from the British about 150 years ago — and are currently on display at the illustrious Victoria and Albert Museum.
The only thing is that Ethiopians want that shit back — and even filled out the necessary paperwork to initiate the process back in 2007 — but unsurprisingly the request was rejected.
But it seems there might be a compromise in the works as a new exhibit being staged by the museum is making its debut— and this has given Tristram Hunt — the museum’s director — a “light bulb moment” as he makes the incredulous offer to loan the stolen artefacts to the rightful owners — in order to avoid disrupting the flow of the museum’s organized program.
“The speediest way, if Ethiopia wanted to have these items on display, is a long-term loan … that would be the easiest way to manage it.”
If you’re already seething at the gall of this White man using his influence to justify the sins of his descendants — then wait until you hear about the history behind the looted goods that he’s so desperately trying to protect.
The Maqdala display that’s about to open to the public will feature twenty pieces that were swiped by the British military — as a reward for their victory after recovering the British hostages that were being held by Emperor Tewodros — who ended up committing suicide after suffering the devastating defeat that included the loss of his “fortress” — Maqdala.
I can just visualize the heightened frenzy that ensued — as the victors righteously descended on all the valuables and shamelessly used the dead emperor’s elephants and mules as means to transport the stolen goods.
Those who’ve been steadfastly campaigning for the return of the prized possessions have established that they’re being housed at a number of notable centers around the UK — including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Library at Windsor Castle.
Hunt’s reasoning for the “long-term loan” instead of simply acknowledging the longstanding debt to Ethiopia and working with the appropriate agencies to process the return of all items to Ethiopia — is exactly why the Western world will continue to appropriate from other cultures for their own betterment.
And even worse is the willingness of Ethiopians to accept this nonsensical compromise as if it was offered in good faith — when it’s really being devised with the conniving tactics that were utilized centuries ago — that have tragically bred the dire results that are stalling our much-needed progression.
Prof Andreas Eshete — a former president of Addis Ababa University who established Afromet — “a campaign group for the return of Maqdala treasures” may view the “long term loan” as “a great improvement on what has happened before” — and even go as far as declaring the gesture “a great gift to the country” — but I call it a bullshit idea that only further exacerbates the gaping wounds that may never heal.
Hunt’s approach to this matter reeks of White privilege as he tries to censor the requests that don’t quite fit into the museum’s best-laid plans of orchestrating luxurious exhibitions — that tote items that belong to a foreign heritage that is connected to a dynasty with royal lineage.
The British are understandably very protective and extremely loyal to their monarchy and yet they’re unable to extend that honor to other countries — who also share a similar sentiment when it comes to their own bedazzled status.
Why is it admissible to dismiss the fate of an emperor who was forced to take drastic action to save his kingdom and ended up dying in the process? How can it be that many years later — his people are still fighting to secure his treasures because his detractors are adamant about celebrating their Queen and countrymen with physical evidence of their abhorrent behavior.
The disgusting aspect of this case is supplied through Hunt’s typical nature as a White man who automatically deems the Black man as an unworthy competitor who isn’t skilled enough to comprehend the thoroughness of handling his own legacy. And so he candidly explains why it’s not advisable to follow the lead of French president Emmanuel Macron — who recently shared his disapproval with the current state of affairs when it comes to European institutions — insisting on being the main point of contact when it comes to African art.
Hunt replies with this zinger:
“You have to approach it in an item by item manner.”
That is obviously code for “we are civilized enough to handle this with the efficiency and dignity that is required, so let us do our job.”
It seems that the pressure is rising and sooner rather than later — those accused will have to be brought to justice after spending way too long — lounging in the security and wealth of what wasn’t earned.
It’s time for colonizers to return all poached goods because it’s the right thing to do.
Deflecting from the responsibility of giving back what was taken under trifling circumstances is basically echoing the validity of a mentality that systematically ruined nations for eternity. It’s also supremely offensive for Hunt to blanket his ulterior motives with empty promises that look pretty on the outside but are grossly deceptive and overtly condescending:
“I think personally It would not be a bad idea to think about how we use development aid money for greater partnerships for conservation, heritage management and artefact support in countries, like Ethiopia, which have an incredible heritage and the prospect of a growing, global market of visitors.”
So — instead of returning the artefacts — it would be best to “develop a partnership” that will give colonizers the upper hand to retain control and continue their lordship over those they’ve wronged — including resources and traditions that are etched over items stored in glass cases — in temperature-regulated houses that answer to the Queen.
If Britain genuinely wants to help Ethiopia maximize their heritage in ways that will encourage “the prospect of a growing, global market of visitors” — then all they have to do is dutifully muddle though the imposing demands of protocol and ship the collection back to its birthplace.
It’s not only the right thing to do — it’s the only option.