Tribute to Ras Seymore McLean

The time, it is widely believed, to consider the return of the loot from Maqdala in its entirety, rather to continue with such haphazard acts of belated repatriation.

(The above account is based on Professor Pankhurst's article "The Napier Expedition and the Loot from Maqdala", which appeared in Presence Africaine (1985), Nos 133-4, pp 233-40. The latter article contains full bibliographical references to all the passages above quoted.


AFROMAT urges the United Kingdom Parliamentary Committee to recognise the elementary right of all peoples to struggle for the restitution of their cultural property, no less than for their freedom, when taken away from them by force.

We recall that the British Expedition against Emperor Tewodros of Ethiopia in 1867-68 was accompanied by extensive looting of his capital at Maqdala.

We observe that this loot comprised numerous items of major historical and cultural importance for Ethiopia. They include over 350 Ethiopian manuscripts on parchment, many of them exquisitely illustrated; two crowns, one of them of almost pure gold; an early sixteenth century icon of Christ with the Crown of Thorns, traditionally carried by Ethiopian monarchs on campaign; Tewodros's two royal tents; 10 tabots, or holy altar slabs; and many fine processional church crosses.

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