Yesterday I was invited to share my opinion on the news about the V&A museum considering to ‘loan’ some its looted artefacts back to the rightful owners – the people of Ethiopia.
(I have a little experience on this – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mg0Y-…)
Let me start by stating that I have less issue with the few museums who through partnership working with communities (not just nation states) and a willingness to acknowledge the looted status of some of their object collections, reach repatriation and reciprocal loan agreements.
But it’s interesting how whilst some museums are now starting to recognise their responsibility to repatriate human remains, they do not want to do the same with the artefacts they illegally hold in their possession.
Possessing a stolen item does not make someone its legitimate owner, they simply possess it… illegally.
And because they do not own it, they can either maintain (or transfer) possession of it, or return it to its rightful owner (or descendent) – but never do they ever have the moral authority to legitimately loan it.
Let me give you an example, it’s like the millions of people oppressed during Maafa by non-African nations.
During Trans-Saharan enslavement, Trans-Atlantic enslavement and colonial enslavement, millions of African people were forcibly captured (kidnapped), transported (trafficked), oppressed (raped, brutalised, enslaved, murdered) and exploited (physically and commercially).
The bodies of some of my Ancestors are still held in museums across Europe and the US.
But despite the efforts of these Maafa criminals to racialise and dehumanise their victims, African people were never the property of so called –‘slave owners’ or ‘colonial masters’.
As a parent I do not even ‘own’ my children, I am merely their custodian/guardian. A sentient being cannot be owned despite the fact that even today there are some sick individuals who speak about humans being ‘illegal’.
No-one is ever born a slave or property, they are always born free into the world until someone or something (a system of) evil enslaves or exploits them.
This extends to the belongings and possessions of all those that are oppressed. Contrary to the Afriphobic populist view of Empire – might does not equate to right.
In fact there is a wise saying, the passage of time does not lessen the crime (thank you EPJ).
Likewise, justice always remains a possibility for as long as we never forget the Truth and continue to resist those that would maintain lies.