The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is likely to return Asante gold regalia to Ghana after a recent visit there by its director Tristram Hunt. These treasures had been seized during a British punitive raid in 1874.
Although international attention is now focused on the restitution of Benin bronzes to Nigeria from European and American collections, items from the Asante kingdom are arguably of equal significance. Together, Benin and Asante (now in Ghana) represent two of the greatest West African cultures. A return of treasures to Ghana by the V&A will inevitably increase pressure on the British Museum, which holds a much larger Asante collection.
The British colony of the Gold Coast was expanded in 1872 and conflicts then intensified with the Asante kingdom, which lay to the north. In January 1874 British troops entered Kumasi, the Asante capital. Queen Victoria’s forces looted and blew up the palace of the king (Asantehene), Kofi Karikari. They then demanded 50,000 ounces of gold, nominally to recover the expenses of the punitive raid. The seizure of the gold regalia stripped the Asante king of his symbols of government. Tensions continued over many years and further treasures were seized during later military campaigns in 1896 and 1900.
Hunt, in the V&A’s latest annual review, writes: “I visited Ghana to begin conversations about a renewable cultural partnership centred around the V&A collection of Asante court regalia, which entered the collection following the looting of Kumasi in 1874. We are optimistic that a new partnership model can forge a potential pathway for these important artefacts to be on display in Ghana in the coming years.”
On his visit in February, Hunt held discussions with both the Ghanaian ministry of tourism, arts and culture and the current Asante king, Osei Tutu II.
Most UK national museums are not normally able to deaccession, in the V&A’s case because of restrictions incorporated in the 1983 National Heritage Act. Hunt favours a loosening of this prohibition and with next year’s 40th anniversary of the act, he would like to see a debate over deaccessioning.
For the present, the V&A can only offer a long-term loan of Asante treasures, but eventually such loans might lead to a transfer of legal ownership. We can report that the V&A-Ghanaian discussions were partly facilitated by Ivor Agyeman-Duah, a Kumasi-born historian of Asante art and architecture. He served as an adviser to John Kufuor, a former president of Ghana (2001-09), and was a former director of the Ghana Museums & Monuments Board.
One of the sensitive issues that needs addressing is whether treasures returned from Britain should be displayed in the national capital, Accra, or the Asante capital, Kumasi.
Agyeman-Duah tells The Art Newspaperthat he believes it is important that looted Asante objects should be returned to where they were seized: “It is appropriate that they go to the palace in Kumasi.”
The venue there would be the Manhyia Palace Museum, a building erected in 1925, which served as the royal residence until 1970. In 1995 it became a museum. It has been closed since last year for refurbishment, including upgrading security and environmental conditions, which will pave the way for international loans.
Golden fleeced: works in UK museums
The greatest part of the V&A’s Asante collection comprises 13 pieces of looted Asante court regalia. These were sold by the British army through the London crown jeweller Garrard.
They include a decorated gold pectoral “soul” disc, shaped like a flower, which would have been worn by priests involved in the ritual purification of the king’s soul. There is a also a pear-shaped pendant, either worn or possibly attached to a state sword or stool. The remaining pieces of regalia are of gold.
The British Museum’s collection of Asante objects is much larger, including 105 items that were seized in 1874. Of these, 83 were purchased from the crown agents for the colonies, 12 from Garrard and ten elsewhere. A further 12 pieces were acquired after an 1896 raid.
Among the most poignant objects in the British Museum’s collection is a large gold “soul” disc. When acquired by the Marquess of Exeter in 1874 he had it framed by Garrard in an impressive gold surround, made in London. On the reverse it is inscribed, along with the aristocrat’s crest: “The gold ornament in the centre of this dish is a portion of the indemnity paid by the Ashanti King Coffee Calcalli to Her Majesty’s Forces.” This transformed a sacred Asante religious object into an English war trophy. Perhaps surprisingly, the object was bought by the British Museum from the owner’s descendants in 1973, nearly a century after the looting.
The Wallace Collection has a stunning gold Asante trophy head which is the largest known piece of historic goldwork made in Africa, outside Egypt. This was bought by Richard Wallace in 1874.
London’s National Army Museumowns an important ceremonial bowl which stood outside the royal mausoleum. This was once erroneously said to have ben used to collect the blood of beheaded sacrificial victims, a reflection of British colonial attitudes in the 19th century.
The Royal Regiment of Artillery is believed to own an important Asante gold ram’s head. It is set on an elaborate stand, made in London in 1875, which includes three Atlantean figures of Africans.
When The Art Newspaper asked for further information, we were told that the regiment “do not circulate details relating to their private property”.
Other Asante pieces are in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow, Leeds Museumand the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford.
In 1974, the centenary of the looting, the then Asante king, Opoku Ware II, asked for “the return of regalia and other items removed from our country by British expeditionary forces in 1874, 1896 and 1900”. Although that claim was made nearly 50 years ago, it now looks likely that the V&A will be taking the bold step of leading the way in acceding to this request.
The V&A is not commenting further, although an announcement is likely later this year.
A British Museum spokesperson says that a formal claim was received in 1974. Since then “there have been several spoken requests, most notably by the current Asantehene, during the visit of the deputy director of the British Museum to Kumasi in 2010”. The spokesperson says that there is “a cordial working relationship with the Asante Royal Court through the Asantehene and the Manhyia Palace Museum committee”.
Discussions have been held with the Asantehene, with both parties expressing the “ambition that objects from the British Museum collection might travel on loan to the Kumasi museum”.
Fed Up And Desperate South Africans Are Looking To Other Countries In Search Of Better Opportunities
Fed up and desperate South Africans are looking to other countries in search of better opportunities, but high net worth foreigners are flocking here for a better quality of life.
Rampant crime, corruption and, to a lesser extent the country’s ongoing electricity woes, are listed as some of the reasons why South Africans are heading for the exit. The Covid-19 pandemic is also no longer a deterrent to travelling.
Top of the lost-skills list are doctors, accountants, IT specialists and even media professionals who are looking for greener pastures, mainly in English language countries.
Results of a survey released by infoQuest/TrendER this week indicated that 5% of employed South Africans had applied for residency in another country and would be emigrating soon.
Another 14% had seriously considered emigrating and had made enquiries or submitted applications.
The organisation said a further one in three employed South Africans had thought about emigrating but had not taken any further steps.
“If we extrapolate this to the actual numbers, 5% of about 15 million working South Africans indicates a staggering number of 750 000 South Africans getting ready to leave imminently,” said Claire Heckrath, managing director of infoQuest.
Experts say New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the UK are perennial favourites for those seeking a better life outside the country, but Portugal and Panama are growing in popularity and have been added to the list.
On the flip side, new SA residents, mainly from Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, view South Africa as their playground because of its natural beauty, open spaces and larger living areas.
But there’s a caveat: you have to be affluent to get around the loadshedding, crime, health and education troubles you will encounter in your new home.
Property and immigration experts say Hermanus is the place of choice for foreigners who relocate to South Africa, while Cape Town and Plettenberg Bay come a close second.
Tax and immigration experts say the favourable exchange rate for people from Europe means they get more value for money when they buy property here than they would get in their own countries.
The beauty of the whales in Hermanus, its proximity to Cape Town and the top notch infrastructure in the area are all selling points, says Annien Borg, an area manager for Pam Golding estate agency.
Borg said foreigners were willing to fork out R50m for a lavish house or even R22m for a vacant plot in the seaside town.
South Africans in new countries say it’s the safety, good education and hope for better opportunities that saw them take the plunge.
However, it’s not necessarily easier for everyone: some have to work even harder than before, and take on two jobs to maintain the standard of living they had back home.
Sable International migration manager Sarah Young said she had assisted 300 families to relocate to Portugal through that country’s golden visa investment programme.
She said the volatility of the rand, safety and security and high unemployment rates are what spurred on her clients to make the move.
Young said other countries like Malta, Ireland and Grenada were also becoming popular.
Biokineticist Michelle das Neves moved to Portugal at the start of this year, just after getting married, citing crime, feeling unsafe, the breakdown of facilities, racism and the growing inequality as reasons she and her husband left.
While she ran a successful practice with more than one consulting room in SA, she now splits her time between her medical profession and selling houses.
Despite doing well as an estate agent and being acknowledged as “rookie of the quarter”, she says wearing two hats was tiring but worth it.
“I’m very happy that the lights stay on and the water stays on and that I can walk in the street and I don’t have to be paranoid about my bag in my car,” said Das Neves.
She said while there was crime, it wasn’t violent crime that South Africans were exposed to all the time.
Tax attorney Madeleine Schubart from Boshoff Inc said Portugal was popular among South Africans of retirement age because they were only subjected to a 10% tax in that country. In addition it was only high net worth individuals who were considering that as a new place to settle.
She said the cost of living was favourable in Portugal while those going to Panama saw it as a foot in the door to getting their children educated in the US.
She said a substantial number of farmers had also left SA and gone to the US where they became farm managers, while the UK was usually favoured by engineers and young professionals.
“South Africa doesn’t always have the next step available for the very ambitious,” she said.
Andrew Kerr, a director at Network Migration, said currently New Zealand was the most popular destination among his clients.
Over 25 years he has helped 12 000 families emigrate from South Africa to New Zealand or Australia. He said NZ was their number one destination and had been for the last 10 years, and was popular among all age groups, from 21 to 55, regardless of ethnicity or education.
He said the reasons for leaving were mostly for the future of their children, but also high unemployment, crime and Eskom.
Kerr said it took two to five years to get back to the standard of living you had achieved before leaving SA and that it took three to six months to immigrate to New Zealand and 12 to 18 months for Australia.
Durban businesswoman Samanthra Pillay, her husband Sugan and their two daughters sold their business a few months ago and their home on Sunday and will head to New Zealand in November.
Pillay said they wanted better opportunities and education for their children and the best way for them to get into New Zealand was for her to apply to do a PhD in law. Once there, her husband would get a work visa and eventually they hoped for citizenship.
Johannesburg couple Jackie and Jacques Roodt and their two daughters are scheduled to fly to New Zealand on October 12.
Roodt, who is in the IT field, already has a job there, while they managed to secure a place to live and a school for their children so they could hit the ground running.
Tax specialist Jeremy Burman said the imposition of a possible wealth tax was not a major reason for emigration.
He said South Africa already had several taxes which could be regarded as forms of wealth tax like capital gains tax, transfer duty, estate duty and donations tax.
Burman urged possible emigrants to get the proper financial and tax advice before leaving the country so that they could plan.
He said there were many misconceptions around exit tax in particular which he described as “almost a last bite” for SARS to get a cut out of your assets before leaving for good.
The Independent on Saturday
Three Sisters Who Have Strict Parents Get Impregnated By Their Gardener
A gardener has successfully impregnated three sisters at the same time.
These three sisters were unable to explore the outside world due to the strict parents they have who virtually controlled every aspect of their lives.
In a bid to explore their sex lives, these three Kenyan sisters had to rely on the poor gardener who always came around to work.
It was learned that the only close friend they had was the gardener who routinely visits to tend the flowers in their home.
Their once-close friendship had developed into a romantic bond, and the gardener began having private encounters with the sisters without the knowledge of their strict parents.
It was discovered that this continued for a while before the ladies all caught on, surprising their devout Christian parents.
According to rumours going around, the gardener had only been intimate with the secondborn up until the firstborn discovered them and requested that the same treatment be given to her in order to purchase her silence.
The last born was also involved in the tryst, but it’s unclear how she found out.
“I’m Grateful” : Thoughtful American Mum Pregnant With Son’s 5th Baby At 56
A mother has revealed she is pregnant with her own son’s baby after he and his wife struggled to conceive for years.
Nancy Hauck, a 56-year-old mum-of-five and administrator from St George, Utah, decided to be a surrogate for her 32-year-old son Jeff and his wife Cambria, 30, as her daughter-in-law was unable to carry more children after undergoing a hysterectomy.
Knowing Jeff loved being a father and wanted to grow his brood, Nancy tentatively volunteered to carry a child for the couple, but had concerns it wouldn’t be possible due to her age.
However, the embryo successfully transferred earlier this year, with Nancy due to give birth to her grandchild in November.
“I never imagined I would be pregnant at 56 or that this would be possible, but it is the most beautiful thing,” Nancy told the British news agency South West News Service (SWNS), as quoted by the Daily Mail.
Jeff and Cambria had long struggled with fertility issues, undergoing IVF treatment for six years before falling pregnant their now-three-year-old twins, Vera and Ayva. Not long after, the couple conceived another set of twins, 11-month-old Diseal and Luka.
However, the traumatic birth meant Cambria was required to undergo a hysterectomy, an invasive procedure that surgically removes a woman’s uterus. The procedure may also involve the removal of the cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes, meaning the woman will no longer be able to get pregnant. As per Health Navigator, hysterectomies are often carried out to treat conditions that affect the female reproductive system, including bleeding problems, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, prolapse or cancer.
Despite being unable to carry more children, the couple had remaining frozen embryos they were hoping could be implanted into a surrogate – and Nancy decided to volunteer.
“I just had a feeling a few months after that I should offer to do it,” she said.
“I told my son, and he teared up and was shocked – I hadn’t even told my husband at that point, but he was really supportive.
“I feel very powerful carrying my son’s daughter… I think this is quite a rare thing to do. I never planned for it, but I am so glad I chose to carry my son’s baby.”
Surrogacy is when a woman carries a baby for a couple who are unable to conceive or carry a child themselves. Such couples may include those who have suffered recurrent miscarriages, repeated IVF failures, premature menopause or a hysterectomy.
Straight surrogacy involves using the surrogate’s egg and the intended father’s sperm; the least expensive and simplest form of the procedure. Host surrogacy, which is the case for the Hauck family, requires IVF with either the intended mother’s eggs or donor eggs, rather than those of the surrogate. In this case, the surrogate is typically unrelated to the baby, and donor eggs can be from friends or relatives, or anonymously donated.
After approaching fertility experts with their proposal, doctors had concerns about Nancy’s age; however, an exam found she could still be a viable carrier for the couple as long as they acted before she entered menopause.
“I left the choice up to Jeff and Cambria. They’d just had their twins, so it was very quick after to have another baby. But they decided to go for it.”
Nancy began hormone treatment in January 2022, injecting herself daily for 12 weeks with the help of her husband and Jeff’s father, Jason. The fertilised embryo was transferred into her uterus a month later – and 26 years after Nancy’s last pregnancy.
Speaking to the news service, Jeff said his mother’s selfless act has left him in awe of her “kindness, love, strength, attitude, wisdom, and dedication”.
“She is sacrificing so much for us, and our family and we just feel so grateful. It has been so miraculous and beautiful,” Cambria added, as quoted by the Daily Mail.
In May, the family discovered they were expecting a baby girl, who is due to be born on November 5.
“There is no repayment for something like that – all I can do is follow the example my parents have set and try to give that same level of love and devotion to my own family and to others,” Jeff concluded.
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