Will the obelisk from Ethiopia finally be going home?

maart 2004 -

It appears that the obelisk that Mussolini took with him from Ethiopia is finally returning home. The historical monument has been taken apart, and the parts are in storage at the Rome airport. They are waiting for an aeroplane that can bear the enormous weight. Transport by ship is not an option because Ethiopia does not have a port.

The obelisk is an extremely important part of the Ethiopian cultural heritage. It is the most beautiful of some fifty obelisks that remain from the historical city of Axum. The city was the capitol of an empire two thousand years ago. The Italian leader Benito Mussolini ordered his troops to bring the monument to Rome after the invasion of Ethiopia. Although Italy signed treaties in 1947 and 1997 promising the immediate return of the structure, no action was ever taken. The Ethiopian people have already announced that the date of the obelisk's return will be an official holiday to be celebrated annually.

As soon as the obelisk arrives in Axum, the committee that worked to return the structure will turn its efforts to another part of the cultural heritage that is in foreign hands: the Maqdala treasure. The British army destroyed the fort Maqdala when it attacked Emperor Téwodros in 1868. The British took many of the historical treasures there back to their home. Afromet, the Association for the Return of Maqdala Ethiopian Treasures, has fought for years to collect the artefacts and historical artwork from British museums and Windsor Castle.