Otumfuo Raises Concern about Sale of African Arts to Non-Africans

With his insight and foresight, the King of the Asante Kingdom, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has identified looming danger threatening contemporary African arts and called for efforts in dealing with it.

In the past, these precious and priceless arts were stolen or forcefully taken from Africans; however, he observes that young African artisans and artists of the current age are selling off their works which would be worth millions to non-Africans.

This, His Majesty indicated, has the propensity to rid African galleries of art works in future.

He foresees Africans would in the future have to travel to the Americas and Europe to catch a glimpse of the exquisite works of their forefathers.

“Markets are markets and those who invest in African markets do so and trade in futures. There are many galleries springing up in modern African cities with reviews of contemporary African arts in major media that include CNN, News Break, CBN, and ABC of young African artists who have graduated from our schools within the continent. Many of their products are sadly not in African galleries for sale and are easily bought by non-Africans with interest in them, branded and marketed for bigger profits. It’s the market. What can we do to save some of the creative energy of contemporary artists?”

His Majesty raised these concerns while speaking at the Asante Regalia Homecoming and Photo Exhibition, dubbed, “Homecoming, Adversity and Commemoration”, an event to mark the return of some Asante crafts looted from the Palace of an Asante King, on May 1, 2024.

He highlighted, “In some of the exhibition, objects were taken forcefully at war and sometimes at peace. The ones that are being produced and bought from Africa today are the dictates of the market. From the Elysee Palace in France to homes of Prime Ministers in Europe, and middle and upper-class individuals, these artworks are precious objects that would be worth millions in the future. Will many Africans have to travel to see this in future?”

But the King in his wisdom has already devised plans to forestall the threat.

In his remarks, he said efforts are underway to provide support to traditional arts in Ghana through the Manhyia Palace Museum in collaboration with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) College of Arts, the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Airways and the IAG Cargo.

“In 10 years from 2025, it would institute three prizes a year in traditional finance, and works of major finalists will be purchased for upcoming contemporary art museums so we can help retain some of the creative arts in the country.”

In addition to that, he intends to meet up with Ghanaian arts community in the United Kingdom (UK) when he makes a trip to the country this July.

“When I next travel to England in the coming months, I will be meeting some of these Ghanaian artists, painters, goldsmiths and see how we can collectively work with some of the traditional art groups. When the modalities are set up, we will also work with private galleries in the country to at least retain some of their collections. It is not always that we have to solicit for things we can strive and do for ourselves.”

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