Saturday, July 13, 2024

Stolen 18th century Ethiopian crown to return home

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

An Ethiopian Sirak Asfaw left his home country in late 1970s for Netherlands fleeing political repression of the Communist government.

The Communist government, or Derg had come to power in 1974 but the regime unleashed violence known as the Red Terror.

Hundreds of thousands were killed and many forced to leave the country.

Asfaw was one of them, becoming a refugee in Netherlands who then subsequently became a host to many Ethiopians who had left the country.

His flat in Rotterdam between 1980s and 1990s was a safe haven for “Friends, refugees, whoever,” he told the BBC in an interview.

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But in 1998 he discovered that one of those he hosted was carrying an 18th Century Ethiopian crown in his bag.

The crown was reportedly one of just 20 in existence. It has depictions of Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit, as well as Jesus’ disciples.

It was reportedly a gift to a church by the powerful warlord Welde Sellase hundreds of years ago.

Sirak confronted the man who had the crown and insisted it had to be returned to Ethiopia.

Loyal to Ethiopia

He told the BBC that “Most people don’t really care about this cultural heritage. I’m loyal to Ethiopia.”

Ethiopian crown stolen
Sirak Asfaw, left, says he is waiting for the Ethiopian government to get in touch. Photo: AFP/GETTY

Sirak kept the crown until now, saying it was now safe for it to return home.

“You end up in such a suffocating situation, not knowing who to tell or what to do, or to hand over,” he said.

Sirak added that “of course afraid that the Dutch government might confiscate it. I had fire alarms all over my house, eight or something like that. Really scared!”

He said with a new regime now in place led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, he felt the time was right to return the crown to Addis Ababa.

It is currently being stored at a high security facility until it can be safely returned to Ethiopia.




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