Preservation, Recognition of Ethiopia’s Artefacts & Heritages Crucial to Long-term Ambitions: American Volunteer

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January 22,2022 (ENA) The preservation and recognition of Ethiopia’s rich cultural artefacts and heritages is key to realizing its long-term ambitions, the Ethiopian-American volunteer Bemelekot Tewahade said.

Although plenty of its artefacts were taken abroad by various actors, Ethiopia is still one of the world’s oldest countries with ancient, cultural, and religious heritages and precious artifacts.

Patriots like Bemelekot Tewahade that have been striving to retrieve priceless artefacts such as the sword of Menelik II have been handing over stolen and looted collections.

Bemelekot handed over the sword of Menelik II which was in the US to the National Museum of Ethiopia on January 21, 2022.  

An ancient wooden cross, letters, photographs, postcards and other gifts exchanged between Emperor Haile Selassie and foreign leaders as well  as other invaluable manuscripts were among the heritages he brought back along with the sword.

Approached by ENA, Bemelekot Tewahade, an American of Ethiopian descent devoted to  collecting and returning Ethiopian artefacts stressed that people who do not know their history cannot move forward.

The volunteer and businessman said “people who do not know their history cannot move forward. They have got to know the bad history and the good history. You cannot hide history, you cannot rewrite history, and you cannot modify history.”

Apart from the society where the heritages are based, some international actors — particularly the UNESCO, have the responsibility for the safety and security of heritages.

Asked about the silence of some international organizations with regard to the recent attacks and lootings of various cultural heritages by the terrorist TPLF, he said it is regrettable that people and institutions do not speak up for some political reason.

Stating his hope that the international community will not do that in the future, Bemelekot stated that what really helps the world population in the end is to preserve Ethiopia’s rich heritages.

“One day a lot of people from around the world — Russians, Chinese, and Americans, can come to Ethiopia and really enjoy these beautiful heritages and artifacts.”

Ethiopians are poor yet very proud people, Bemelekot noted, adding that he “hopes Ethiopia is on the mend and things are moving forward. We encourage the international community, especially our fellow Americans, that Ethiopia should be given a chance to be able to articulate its case.”

Deputy Director-General of Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Abebaw Ayalew said on his part that Ethiopia has a long history and produced a great deal of cultural and historical heritages. Unfortunately some of these cultural heritages and artefacts were taken out of the country for various reasons.

Recently the Ethiopian government has been engaged in the activity of restitution of heritages as the National Restitution Committee of Heritage is established this Ethiopian year.

This generation has to be very conscious of its heritages, the deputy director-general said, adding that in the past 30 years the government did not give due attention to the history and culture of the country.

There was a great deal of shift in terms of government attention towards culture and history as well as conservation and preservation of heritages in the past three years, he noted.

“It is important for schools and religious institutions as well as government institutions and others to teach the generation about the importance of our heritages which are important marks of our identity.”