Buy Our Writers A Coffee

Subscription Amount. Min £2

sacred religious relic believed to be plundered by British soldiers from Ethiopia is being returned to the African country after being saved by a London-based academic.

The 19th century tabot, a type of altar tablet from the Christian Orthodox Ethiopian Church, is regarded as so holy it cannot be seen or touched by anyone who is not a member of the clergy. They cannot be photographed and are only shown to the faithful wrapped and covered with cloth.

It is among hundreds of treasures brought back to the UK after the British invaded Ethiopia in 1868 and was due to be sold last year when it was spotted by Dr Jacopo Gnisci.

It will be handed back to the church by Dr Gnisci, who lectures in art at UCL, during a ceremony at the historic Athenaeum gentleman’s club on September 21.

Also being handed over to the country’s national museum are a shield, some ceremonial beakers and a lock of hair cut from the head of the Ethiopian Prince Alemayehu who was brought back to live in the UK by a soldier called Captain Tristram Speedy.

Dr Gnisci, who found the tabot for sale in the UK last year, said: “I have been travelling to Ethiopia regularly since the early 2000s and I have been working collaboratively on the Christian heritage of the country for a number of years, so I immediately knew what kind of artefact I was looking at. 


Tahir Shah from the Scheherazade Foundation, which helped facilitate the handover, said Prince Alemayehu’s hair was being returned by descendants of Captain Speedy.

He said: “They want to do what’s right and I love the fact they haven’t put it up for auction or tried to sell it.

“I think they just want to close the case.”

He said the idea of handing over the treasures in the Atheneum, which dates to 1824 and whose members have included Prime Ministers, inventors and explorers, appealed because it was “the ultimate bastion of Victorian pomp and glory and scholarship”.

He said: “We want to bridge cultures and our very strong sense is the British establishment is going to be hit in the face by all kinds of cultures trying to get their stuff back so all we’re trying to do is facilitate and open a door and dialogue.”

A recent study found London is home to a vast haul of Ethiopian treasures brought back to this country after the British invasion with 538 items identified ranging from tiny scraps of manuscript torn up and stuffed inside a charm bracelet to royal finery and holy artefacts. Story by Robert Dex and Arts Correspondent, Evening Standard

About IEA Media Ltd

Informer East Africa is a UK based diaspora Newspaper. It is a unique platform connecting East Africans at home and abroad through news dissemination. It is a forum to learn together, grow together and get entertained at the same time.

To advertise events or products, get in touch by info [at] informereastafrica [dot] com or call +447957636854.
If you have an issue or a story, get in touch with the editor through editor[at] informereastafrica [dot] com or call +447886544135.

We also accept donations from our supporters. Please click on "donate". Your donations will go along way in supporting the newspaper.

Get in touch

Our Offices

London, UK
+44 7886 544135
editor (@)
Slough, UK
+44 7957 636854
info (@)

Latest News

South Sudan’s Kiir snubs junior U.S officials in New York

South Sudan’s Kiir s...

September 21, 2023 (JUBA) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir declined a meeting with junior United...

Tunisia to receive payment under controversial EU migration deal

Tunisia to receive p...

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, delivers a speech in the European Parli...

COP28 UAE President-Designate visits award-winning Kenyan fintech leader M-KOPA on the side lines of Africa Energy Forum

COP28 UAE President-...

Minister also meets with former Global High Schools category winner and CEO of Mazi Mobility Suppor...

Kiir holds chains of meetings with leaders at UN General Assembly

Kiir holds chains of...

President Salva Kiir has held several meetings with leaders on the sideline of the ongoing United Na...

For Advertisement

Big Reach

Informer East Africa is one platform for all people. It is a platform where you find so many professionals under one umbrella serving the African communities together.

Very Flexible

We exist to inform you, hear from you and connect you with what is happening around you. We do this professionally and timely as we endeavour to capture all that you should never miss. Informer East Africa is simply news for right now and the future.

Quality News

We only bring to you news that is verified, checked and follows strict journalistic guidelines and standards. We believe in 1. Objective coverage, 2. Impartiality and 3. Fair play.

Banner & Video Ads

A banner & video advertisement from our sponsors will show up every once in a while. It keeps us and our writers coffee replenished.