Britain is yet to return the two locks of royal hair belonging to the famous Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros II, which the National Army Museum in Britain had announced earlier this year will be sent back to Addis Ababa.
Many Ethiopians are agitated over the prolonged red tape around the repatriation of these highly valued items that remind them of one of the fiercest battles their ancestors fought against colonisers.
The Emperor committed suicide after his defeat by British troops at the Battle of Magdala in northern Ethiopia in 1868 and his fortress was captured and looted. His son, Prince Alemayehu, was subsequently taken to Britain, where he died in 1879 aged 18.
The museum also agreed that the objects are considered significant to its collection because of their historical connection to a major and unique campaign fought by the British Army in 1868. It claimed they were collected in good faith.
The locks was cut as a souvenir by an army artist and have been part of The National Army Museum’s collection in London since 1959. The museum claimed it was donated by the family of an artist who painted the emperor on his deathbed.
The museum had agreed to repatriate the items from its collection after a request from Ethiopia’s minister of culture and tourism in April last year.
Ethiopians are impatient about the ending yet unproductive discussions with the Embassy of Ethiopia in London on arrangements for the formal return of these precious items.
In the last decade, many African countries seek to reclaim heritage taken from them forcefully by European explorers, colonisers and slave masters.
Emperor Tewodros II is from the bloodline dating back to the biblical King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.