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

  • Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa Dzidzienyo University of Ghana
  • Samuel Nilirmi Nkumbaan University of Ghana
Keywords: Ghana, museum, heritage, looted Ghanaian cultural objects, 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 Mansah Eyifa Dzidzienyo, University of Ghana

Dr Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa-Dzidzienyo (gameyifa@ug.edu.gh) is lecturer at the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, University of Ghana. She holds a PhD and an MPhil. Degrees in Archaeology with a focus on museology, ethnography and heritage issues. Her research is focus on the tangible and intangible heritage of the Talensi in the Upper East Region of Ghana. She is the curator of the Museum of Archaeology at the University of Ghana, and also served as an interim Executive Director of the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board from May – September, 2018. She has a strong passion for museum exhibitions and education

Samuel Nilirmi Nkumbaan, University of Ghana

Dr Samuel Nilirmi Nkumbaan (snkumbaan@ug.edu.gh) is Senior Lecturer, Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, University of Ghana, teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses. He holds a First Class Honours degree in Archaeology with History, and Master and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Archaeology from the University of Ghana. He is a fellow of the University of Michigan African Presidential Scholars Award (UMAPS – 2014-2015). He was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Rochester University, New
York, (2018). His key research interests are in Cultural Resource Management, Material Expressions of Culture (Art), Cultural/Heritage Tourism, Applied/Development Archaeology, and the History of the Konkomba of Northern Ghana. He has authored many publications and a number of technical/consultancy reports.


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2343-6530