Ethiopia: Stolen 18th-century crown returns from Netherlands

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The Dutch government returned an 18-century ceremonial crown to Ethiopia on Thursday, which was stolen from the East African nation 21 years ago.

The crown went missing from a church in Ethiopia more than two decades ago and its disappearance remained a mystery until a Dutch national of Ethiopian origin revealed that the priceless artefact “came into his hands” back in 1998. He contacted Dutch authorities last year to reveal the item was in his possession and seek its return to its country of origin.

Stolen crown returned to Ethiopia

Last year, Sirak Asfaw approached the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform them that he had the stolen crown in his possession. He contacted them to discuss how the precious item could be returned to Ethiopia, the ministry said in a statement.

Asfaw, who was born in Ethiopia before emigrating to the Netherlands in the late 1970s, told AFP that he found the crown in a suitcase left behind by a guest who stayed at his apartment. He says he kept the crown in his possession due to reluctance to return it to the same regime it was originally stolen from and concerns it might be loaned back to Ethiopia, rather than returned, as happened with a Nigerian Benin bronze which the British Museum only offered to return temporarily.

In April 2018, Ethiopia selected Abiy Ahmed to become its new prime minister, prompting significant regime change and a new period of political reforms. The prime minister attended a handover ceremony on Thursday to officially receive the artefact, which was also attended by Asfaw.

Featured image: Twitter

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.