Entertaining interview with Ethiopian Rebuni Movie Actor Yeabsera Teklu Abule. Ethiopians have campaigned for the return of the items since they were plundered after the 1868 capture of Maqdala in what was then Abyssinia. Ethiopia lodged a formal restitution claim in 2007 for hundreds of important artefacts from Maqdala held by various British institutions, which was refused.
Tim Reeve, the deputy director of the V&A, told the Cheltenham Literature Festival that the move was part of the V&A’s work to “decolonise” its collections and to have a more honest conversation about history.
“There is no dispute about whether or not they were borrowed; they were looted and that’s a story we have tried to tell very openly and very honestly at the V&A,” he said.
“Provenance is a big area for museums to invest in researching where these objects come from and how they came to be in these national collections. Being able to tell a much more rounded, holistic, accurate and honest story about those objects.” Reeve said a long-term loan was being discussed as an initial step to returning the treasures, given the V&A and other national museums were forbidden in UK law to simply return items in perpetuity.