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UK urged to return sacred treasures hidden away for 150 years to Ethiopia

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UK urged to return sacred treasures hidden away for 150 years to Ethiopia

They are hidden religious treasures that have been in the British Museum’s stores for more than 150 years, never on public display – with members of the public strictly forbidden from seeing them.

Now hopes have been raised that Ethiopian tabots, looted by the British after the battle of Maqdala in 1868, could finally be returned home following a new legal opinion and an appeal backed by Stephen Fry, the author Lemn Sissay and the former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.

The wood and stone tabots are altar tablets, considered by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as the dwelling place of God on Earth and the representation of the Ark of the Covenant. They have, everyone agrees, huge spiritual and religious value for the people of Ethiopia.

A letter has been sent to British Museum trustees signed by supporters including Fry, Sissay, the actor Rupert Everett and the former British ambassador to Ethiopia Sir Harold Walker. It says the museum has acknowledged the sanctity of the tabots and has never put them on display, allowed them to be studied, copied or photographed. “Instead, they sit in the vaults, where they remain over 150 years later, unknown to the vast majority of people of this country.”

It continues: “We believe that today the British Museum has a unique opportunity to build a lasting and meaningful bridge of friendship between Britain and Ethiopia by handing the tabots back to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.”

A number of attempts have been made by Ethiopia to get the tabots returned but the museum argues it is forbidden by the British Museum Act of 1963 to restitute objects in its collection.

Campaigners sought a new legal opinion that proves, they say, that the tabots can be legally returned.

The opinion, seen by the Guardian, has been drawn up Samantha Knights QC and was commissioned by the Scheherazade Foundation. It points out that the 1963 act has a provision that allows disposal of objects “unfit to be retained” and that can be disposed “without detriment to the interests of students”.

It argues the tabots fall within this category, that they have “no apparent use or relevance to the museum”.

The website has no image of them and only the briefest of descriptions. “As such they are currently and apparently always have been in effect treated very differently to the rest of the collection and could be properly said to be ‘unfit to be retained’.”

On the question of detriment to students, no student is permitted to study them, the document says.

Eleven tabots are in the museum collection; nine can be directly linked to British looting after the Battle of Maqdala in 1868, an event that came about after the Emperor Tewodros II had taken British hostages. More than 500 Ethiopian soldiers were killed and the emperor killed himself rather than be taken prisoner.

Hundreds of objects were subsequently plundered. They are in a number of collections. The V&A, which has Maqdala treasures including a gold crown and a royal wedding dress, has floated the idea of a long-term loan.

The British Museum said in a statement: “These documents need to be reviewed and addressed with full consideration, and more time is required before this can be looked at by trustees.”

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Sammie Okposo For Burial December 15

The funeral arrangements for gospel singer, Sammie Okposo, have been released by his family.

The singer died in November 25 aged 51.

The family stated that a tribute night will be held for him on Tuesday, December 13 in Lagos State, followed by a service of songs on Wednesday.

The funeral service for Okposo will take place on December 15 and will be private affair.

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Defend Your Votes At Polling Units- Charly Boy Urges Youths

Nigerian singer/songwriter, Charles Chukwuemeka Oputa, popularly known as Charly Boy, has called on the youths across the country to protect their votes at their polling units during the 2023 general elections.

Charly Boy, who made the call in an interview on the sideline of the ‘YellOut 4 Good Governance in Nigeria’ event on Friday in Abuja, said the ‘YellOut’ programme was a reawakening of the great Nigerian youths, adding that he is very happy and proud of the youths in the country.

“I have told them that the salvation of any country lies in the hands of the exceptional people; these people are the great Nigerian youths.

“They already know their rights, but my call to them is that they should stand and defend those right at the polling boots.

“However, the opposition wants to do it, I know that the boys are ready to give them back what they get. I don’t have chills in that area; all I can do is wish them well and pray for their safety.

“Nigeria is getting dangerous for my liking, and because of years of disunity and inaction, there are some sacrifices that need to be made and we are going to make these sacrifice,” Charly Boy said.

On the killing of Labour Party Woman Leader in Kaduna, Charly Boy said the old regime think they could still play by their own playbook.

According to the 72-year-old Port Harcourt-born actor and television presenter, the old regime don’t realise the revolution that is happening right now before their eyes, adding that they are in denial.

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Burna Boy Wins Big At 2022 MOBO Awards

Famous Nigerian singer and record producer, Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu, popularly known as Burna Boy, has won two categories of the 2022 Music Of Black Origin (MOBO) awards.

The two categories awards were the Best International Act and the Best African Act.

The award event, which recognises the best black music, was held on Wednesday in London, at Wembley Arena.

The singer was nominated in the Best International Act category alongside Chris Brown, Beyonce, Kendrick Lamar, Jack Harlow, Drake, Summer Walker and Nigerian fast-rising global act, Tems.

Burna also won the Best African Act, beating Asake, Rema, Fireboy, and Omah Lay.

This brings the singer’s MOBO award wins to a total of three following his 2021 win as the Best International Act.

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