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AFROMET - The Association for the Return of The Maqdala Ethiopian TreasuresDetail from the amulet of Emperor Tewodros
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Statements

Extracts from Hansard, 30 June 1871

Colonel North MP stated that Lord Robert Napier (the victor of Maqdala) had declared that:
"the best way of treating the crown and the chalice would be for the State to purchase them and deposit them in the British Museum until an opportunity offered itself for restoring them [to Ethiopia]; and that opportunity would arise when a government was established [in Ethiopia] with some prospect of stability. The selection of the party to whom they [the British] should leave the crown and chalice would be an indication that they [the British Government] regarded them as the rightful rulers of the empire".
Prime Minister Gladstone, who spoke later, was likewise quoted by Hansard as stating that:
"He (Mr Gladstone) deeply regretted that those articles [the crown and the chalice] were ever brought from Abyssinia, and could not conceive why they were so brought' he deeply lamented, for the sake of the country [Britain], and for the sake of all concerned. That these articles to us [the British] insignificant, though probably to the Abyssinians sacred and imposing symbols, or at least hallowed by association, were thought fit to be brought away by a British army".
Commenting on Lord Napier's views, above quoted, Mr Gladstone continued:
"Lord Napier said these articles, whatever the claim of the [British] Army, ought not to be placed among the national treasure, and said they ought to be held in deposit till they could be returned to Abyssinia. It was rather a painful confession, because, if they ought to be returned, it seemed to follow that they ought not to have been brought from Abyssinia"
AFROMET's launch press conference 13 April 1999

Professor Richard Pankhurst
"The dispute between the British government and emperor Tewodros in international law in no way justified the looting of the citadel.... The looting involved the seizure of Tabots, crosses, and religious manuscripts from the church of Medhane Alem at Maqdala and was therefore an act of not only looting but also of sacrilege.... In the same way as the countries of Africa were entitled to independence taken away from them by force, so they are entitled to regain their cultural heritage, likewise taken away by force..." He continued, "The Ethiopian people who have created these treasures [are] the real owners of such articles and entitled to their return. The loot from Maqdala had been taken from Ethiopia unjustly and should, in all honesty, be returned... When the British soldiers looted Tewodros's library at Maqdala, Ethiopia in a sense lost in one full sweep the equivalent of both its national library and national archives."

Professor Pankhurst presented the case in a different perspective suggesting, "let us imagine today that NATO troops attacked Yugoslavia and occupied part of the country and looted monasteries of Kosovo. The whole world would rise up in indignation to condemn such a cultural crime... today we would consider such actions reprehensible and an affront to today's morality. We in (AFROMET) seek to apply that idea of morality to the question of the disposal of the Maqdala loot..."

Professor Pankhurst concluded his statements by saying, "we do not deny that many of these articles were kept more safely in British Libraries and Museums than they would have been in Ethiopia in the aftermath of Emperor Tewodros's heroic suicide. We likewise do not deny that the Ethiopian manuscripts taken to Britain have been the subject of valuable scholarly study. But Ethiopia today has perfectly good libraries and other resources to look after the Maqdala collection, and would have a far greater interest in doing so than institutions in far way Europe... Addis Ababa and no longer Europe is today the center of Ethiopian studies. Our reply to British libraries seeking to retain the Maqdala collection is therefore a simple one. It is essentially the African reply, the reply of the people of Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Egypt, and all the countries from which loot was taken. The reply is 'thank you very much indeed for looking after our property... now please return them to us'...."
Professor Andreas Eshete, AFROMET chairman
"our present quest to retrieve the Maqdala treasures will ... yield something of value, irrespective of the worthy ultimate aims and barriers that will no doubt stand in the way of realizing them. The transmission of knowledge to future generations of the past, that they are heirs to a unique, great civilization is reason enough for a popular movement seeking the return of the Maqdala Treasures. By calling on Ethiopians citizens and friends of Ethiopia to work for the return of the Maqdala treasures AFROMET is in part paying homage and rejuvenating the deep sense of honor and pride displayed by Emperor Tewodros's heroic suicide one-hundred and thirty-one years ago today."
treasure count:
468 items
still missing
10 items
returned
(still counting)

contact members of the AFROMET team based in Addis Ababa and the UK.

read statements by everyone from UK Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone (1871) to the Daily Mail, supporting the return of the Maqdala treasure.

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