Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kings jarred head to be returned to Ghana

The 170 year old preserved head of the former King of Ghana will be returned to its home country after it was discovered in a medical center in the Netherlands.

Bonsu's head was discovered last year in a jar of formaldehyde at the Leiden University Medical Center's anatomical collection by a Dutch author.

Ghana immediately asked for it to be returned and the Dutch government asked the hospital to cooperate.

"It will go back to Ghana, where we assume it will be buried," Dutch Education, Culture and Science Minister Ronald Plasterk told The Associated Press.

The hospital said in a statement Friday it is in talks with the Ghanaian Embassy "to carefully prepare for the return of King Badu Bonsu II's head."

The hospital declined to give more details of the case, citing a "well-considered policy about our anatomic-historical collection."

The decision to return it to Ghana is in line with similar moves by museums in recent years. Several British museums have returned the skulls and other bones of Australian Aborigines following lobbying by indigenous leaders.

The Ghanaian Embassy in The Hague had no immediate comment.

'He's incomplete'
Last year, the embassy urged the return for the king and his clan in the country's Ashanti region.

"Without burial of the head, the deceased will be hunted in the afterlife. He's incomplete," Eric Odoi-Anim, a minister at the embassy, said at the time. "It's also a stigma on his clan, on his kinsmen, and him being a (high-ranking) chief — this is even more serious."

Prominent Dutch writer Arthur Japin told Dutch television he found the head while researching a historical novel.

"He's got a little ring-beard, his eyes are closed as if he's sleeping," said Japin. "And my first thought was, this is not fitting."

I'm glad that he will no longer be haunted in the afterlife and will now be complete.

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