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Published: 24 November 2018

By Andy Ross

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Returning treasures

We all know the debate; the pros and cons of returning antiquities and artefacts that have been collected from around the world in the colonial eras. Here are some pieces that African countries would like back.

My own homeland, Zimbabwe, still has an outstanding item. The Zimbabwe bird is on the country's flag and is a symbol of national pride, showing the skill and ability of working in stone that characterised the precolonial era in this Southern African land. This stoneworking craft is practised today and is a popular form of sculpture, known internationally as "Shona sculpture".

It is however the last in this list that is of special interest. Textiles don't really survive age well and for the V&A Museum in London to have a royal wedding dress is quite remarkable. This one is from Ethiopia and was taken from the country in 1868 by the British Army before being deposited at the Museum. It carries a sad tale of loss and heartbreak which you can read on the V&A website here.  I wonder what will happen next, now that the Museum has offered some of these items back to the country?