A lot will happen in Kumasi next year. First, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his coronation.
Besides, 150 years of the third Anglo-Asante war of 1874, will be observed. It was a war in which a British expeditionary force, retaliating a crushing defeat by Asante two years earlier, marched into Kumasi, destroyed the palace of the Asantehene Kofi Karikari and took away his insignia of authority and other valuables, most of which later found their way into museums in Britain.
A third significant event that will also take place in Kumasi is the centenary of the return of the 13th Asantehene, Prempeh I from 28 years of exile in the Seychelles archipelago.
The calendar for the celebrations has not been released, but without doubt, it will be a loaded period recognising the distinguished reign of the 16th monarch.
In his push for restitution, Otumfuo, during his visit to London in May this year to participate in the coronation of King Charles, took time to meet with the Director of the British Museum, Dr Hartwig Fischer who assured him that his outfit would consider granting his wishes through the established British laws.
A team constituted by the Asantehene made up of historian, museum economist and development specialist, Ivor Agyeman-Duah, and a former Keeper of Ethnography at the British Museum and Vice Principal of the University of Glasgow, Malcolm McLeod, has continued the discussions with the management of the British Museum and indications are that progress is being made.
Agyeman-Duah has also been holding discussions with the director of the V&A Museum, Dr Tristram Hunt in London and an agreement is expected to be signed before February 2024.
The return of the Asante artefacts, according to the Provost of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies, University of Cape Coast (UCC), Prof. Kwame Osei Kwarteng, holds a lot of significance for Asante and Ghana.
In an interview with The Thunder, the Professor of History who studied at the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, said the Asantehene has every right to demand repatriation of the precious items notwithstanding antiquity.
Prof. Kwarteng said once the artefacts were looted from the Asantehene’s palace, demanding them back is in order.
“It was a common practice that any war that was waged, the victors took away war booties.The Asante treasures were war booties, which were added to treasures of the British to indicate that they won a war against the Asantes,” he said.
Highlighting how important the items are to the history of Asante, he stated: “ It is very important, economically, socially, politically and academically. These treasure items will be kept in the Manhyia Palace Museum which will promote tourism. It will promote academic research, and above all it will showcase the rich culture of the Asante people.”