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Return Kenyan artifacts stolen by colonialists

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Some time back, I read in the foreign media about calls to return historic relics removed from Egypt many years back. They included 19 items reportedly removed from the tomb of the legendary Pharaoh Tutankhamun, who ruled the country at the tender age of 18 about 3,000 years ago.

These artifacts of great historical, aesthetic and sentimental value were being held at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

According to the reports, Egyptian curators had put up a strong case and proved that the relics belonged to their country and should be returned.

They included a bronze figure of a dog with a golden collar, a bracelet made of a semi-precious metal, and a sphinx. They were deemed priceless, being invaluable research material for anthropologists tracing human civilization.

Egypt is widely acknowledged as the cradle of human civilization with even the Bible story partly based on it. Egypt holds one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Pyramids of Giza.

These reports reminded me of the Kenyan historical heritage carted away by the British colonial masters many decades ago— including the remains of the two legendary lions christened “Man-Eaters of Tsavo”. They form the backdrop of the acclaimed movie, The Ghost and the Darkness, and are part of the poignant history of the construction of the Kenya-Uganda Railway line at the turn of the century, in which Indian laborers, the “coolies”, were devoured by “ghosts”.

Reports say more than 135 railway labourers were killed by the lions at the Tsavo Bridge in 1898. A British engineer, Colonel Patterson, reportedly brought down the felines.

He is said to have sold their skulls and hides to Chicago Field Museum of Natural History in the United States for $5,000 (Sh500,000) about 80 years ago.

The “Man-Eaters” should be brought home, to be displayed at the National Museums of Kenya as part of our cherished national heritage.

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