Alagi Yorro Jallow

Last week I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Arts in New York, one of the most comprehensive collectors of African art in the United States. The collection ranges from ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces, profiling a historical breadth of works produced out of numerous kingdoms, eras, cultures and empires.

The museum exhibits a detail variety of African art, profiling various forms of rock art, architecture, basketry and portraits of African leaders to name a few, and got more information about the treasure that was plundered from the Pyramids of Meroe.

Apparently, the stolen treasure cannot be returned to Africa, to the bonafide Sudanese people, because it was stolen “legally!”. The Sudan was already under British colonial occupation when the treasure was stolen and thus the colonial government authorized the expropriation of the treasure.

Therefore, UNESCO cannot intervene because the plunder happened at a time when it was legal! Absolutely ridiculous! This rationale reminded me of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s response when he was asked whether the United Kingdom was ready to apologize for participating in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. Unbelievably, his response was that at the time the slave trade was taking place, it was legal and so the United Kingdom had nothing to apologize.