Will the obelisk from Ethiopia finally be going home?
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.