Sunday, June 24, 2007

Kenyans fete repatriated relics

Repatriation is a much-discussed topic in archaeology at the moment, and this article on the BBC website is just one of many articles that look at some of the issues. It looks at repatriation from the point of view of the villagers from whom the items were stolen.

For the last 22 years, a village along Kenya's picturesque coast has blamed its ill fortune on the theft of two memorial wooden statues known as vigango. Earlier this week, Chalani village in Kilifi District was the scene of joyous celebration as villagers received two vigango which had been repatriated from the United States.

Chalani villager danced as the vigango were returned to the graves. Vigango are wooden statues which are considered sacred by Kenya's Mijikenda ethnic group and erected on the graves of revered elders. Hundreds of vigango have reportedly been stolen and exported to Europe and the US, where they are sold to private collectors hungry for ethnic African art.