Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros II’s Hair Locks To Be Returned Home
The Ethiopian Emperor’s hair was taken by British Expeditionary forces sent to Ethiopia then Abyssinia in 1868.
After Benin requested France to return looted bronze statues, other African countries seem to be following the trend. And with the inauguration of the first Museum of African Civilizations in Senegal, it seems Africa is ready to own her artefacts stashed in foreign museums.
According to media reports, Ethiopia as she celebrates 150 years after the battle of Maqdala (Magdala), is set to receive the locks of hair of the brave Emperor who led them to the ill-fated war. During the war that was led by the emperor on the Ethiopian side and Field Marshal Robert Cornelius Napier on British Expeditionary Force side, the emperor decided to end his life instead of being taken prisoner.
However, having defeated the Ethiopians, the British plundered the emperor’s palace taking treasures which the Ethiopians have been asking for return. According to the BBC, “Historians say 15 elephants and 200 mules were needed to cart away all the loot from Maqdala, the emperor’s northern citadel capital.” The British also took the emperor’s son Prince Alemayehu who died at the age of 18 and was buried in the UK.
The return of Tewodros hair has been described as an exemplary gesture of goodwill by the National Army Museum – coming as it does at the end of a year-long commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Maqdala – signifies the dawn of a new level of shared understanding in Ethiopia’s complex history. It is also a reflection of the longstanding ties between Ethiopia and the UK, based on a spirit of partnership and the principle of mutual benefit.
However as Africa News reports, the Ethiopians had as far back as 2007 requested the return of the looted artifacts from Maqdala and the remains of Tewodros son. Tewodros II and his son have remained key figures among Ethiopian heroes. So far Ethiopia has not received any response from UK. Whether the return of the lock of hair will unlock the return of more Ethiopian treasures it is still not clear.