The 25th anniversary of the ascension of Otumfuo Osei Tutu II to the Golden Stool as the Asantehene, has taken off with a durbar for the presentation of regalia to the Asantehene by the University of California.
The first batch of seven objects looted in the third Anglo-Asante War of 1874 arrived in the country some few days ago.
At exactly 12:40 p.m. the Asantehene arrived at the Dwaberem in a palanquin. And, for the first time, the Paramount Chiefs did not pay the usual homage, perhaps due to time factor.
Asantehene,Otumfuo Osei Tutu II
Nana Konadu Yiadom III, the Asantehemaa, also followed suite in about 20 minutes time.
Dr Forni, presenting the items to the Asantehene, said “the items looted in 1874 during the Sargrenti War, had been returned permanently,” adding it was a pleasure returning them.
The British High Commissioner, Harriet Thompson, on her return said “As we do so, we acknowledge the wrongs of the past” and stressed their deep collaboration with Asanteman and Ghana as a whole.
The seven returning objects go back to the period before Asantehene Kofi Karkari in the 1840s and include an ornamental chair of wood, brass, leather and iron; ten large beads worn as bracelet or anklet; strand of seed or bug-shaped beads; gold of an elephant hair, glass and silver; a royal stool ornament; a royal necklace and a royal stool ornament.
And, the commencement of the durbar, dubbed ‘Kuntunkuni’ durbar, as all and sundry wore black, also marked the commemoration of the 150 years of the Sagrenti War.
At the Dwaberem of Manhyia Palace, the atmosphere was charged with the beating of “fontomfrom” and other cultural drums and displays to herald the arrivals of Paramount Chiefs carried in palanquins.
Dignitaries to grace the occasion included former President, John Dramani Mahama, Mr Alan Kyeremanten, a former Minister of Trade, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin and wife, former President, J.A Kufuor.
The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia led a delegation from the Jubilee House to grace the occassion.
Also present was a delegation of three led by the Director of the Fowler Museum of the University of California, Los Angeles (where the objects have been for nearly 60 years) Dr Silvia Forni, the Director of Registration and Collections, Dr Rachel Raynor, the Curator of Africa Department, Dr Erica Jones and an external affiliate to the Museum and Chair of the Music Department at the Tufts University, Professor Kwesi Ampene.
The returning objects were acquired in 1965 by the Museum from one of the major foundations of the world, the Wellcome Trust, which runs the Wellcome Collection of a museum and library in Britain and is set in memory of one of the British-American leading global art collectors and millionaires of his time, Sir Henry Wellcome.
Discussions between the Museum and the Manhyia Palace had been ongoing for a couple of years with their senior Africa curator, Dr Erica Jones, visiting and meeting with the Asantehene last year.
Permission for the objects to leave California under their Cities Permit, was approved in December 2023, paving the way for their return.
The items are permanently being returned partly because the legislation that prevented that has changed at the University, meaning that all looted items could be sent back to their original owners.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu, on April 26, 1999, was enstooled as the 16th occupant of the Golden Stool, and the climax of the anniversary would take place at the Baba Yara stadium, come April this year.