Looted and illegally acquired African objects in European museums: issues of restitution and repatriation in Ghana

  • Gertrude Aba M. Eyifa-Dzidzienyo University of Ghana
  • Samuel N. Nkumbaan University of Ghana
Keywords: Ghana; museum; heritage; looted Ghanaian cultural object; restitution; repatriation


Ghana’s post-independence governments have made a number of requests for the
return of looted and illegally acquired Ghanaian cultural objects in the collections of
European museums. While the majority of those requests were denied, a few were
honoured. This paper assesses three of the demands and the aftermath of their return.
It also examines the preparedness of heritage institutions and museums in Ghana in
relation to issues of restitution and repatriation. The paper identifies the numerous
challenges confronting the museum and heritage sector in Ghana and concludes by
calling on policy makers, traditional authorities, universities and the government of
Ghana to deepen public awareness of cultural heritage, invest more in museums and
heritage institutions to function well and revisit earlier demands that were denied.

Author Biographies

Gertrude Aba M. Eyifa-Dzidzienyo, University of Ghana

Lecturer, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies

Samuel N. Nkumbaan, University of Ghana

Senior Lecturer, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies