The ‘Law Of The Marauder'

Feature Article The Law Of The Marauder'
FEB 1, 2024 LISTEN

Someone who had heard the news that the British Museum and the Victoria Museum (both in London) had agreed to send back to Ghana, “on loan”, [for three years] gold and other precious ornaments looted by British troops from the royal Asante mausoleum in Kumase in 1874, asked me: “Only for three years?”

My answer, as pragmatic as I thought necessary at the time, was this: “Well, it has been said that half a loaf is better than none, hasn’t it?”

The point is that neither the British nor the other colonialists are obliged to do anything about the stuff they pilfered from their colonies at all. If someone comes to your house and steals your choicest belongings at the point of a gun, can you ask him to bring them back?

No - you can’t! You rather appeal to a higher authority – ‘higher’ in terms of being able to USE FORCE to implement its decision (if need be) -- to get the pilfered stuff back for you.

So you ask, “where in the world, today, is such a ‘higher authority’? I pause to ponder the question.

You persist: “Can the United Nations do it”?

Answer: “No! The UN can’t even ask Israel, which is killing scores of hundreds of people from Gaza each day of the week, IN FRONT OF TV CAMERAS, to stop the killings. It won’t allow food, water repeat Water, or fuel, to reach the people it has ORDERED to desert their homes. It is bombing hospitals against rules which it helped to enact at the UN!

When the UN is asked to act to protect the victims of such Israeli lawlessness, some of the very countries which set up the UN to prevent brutal treatment at the hands of dictatorships (after the Nazi dictatorship was defeated in World War Two) are the first to VETO the proposal. And you expect the UN to be able to define, and enforce, justice, in a case which its more cynical members would say, ’relates to mere artefacts in far away Asante'? Forget the UN!

“So, then” (you go on) “if there is no way the British could be forced to give up the Asante artefacts, why are they offering to loan them to Asante for three years?”

“It’s their own conscience that's troubling them!” I would retort.

“What they have done – seize important cultural articles from the culture of a foreign nation (whilst one was preaching in books and other propaganda media that the foreigners were “primitive” and therefore deserved to be ruled by “civilised” nations like oneself!) is so devoid of logic that they have had to reckon with the crass picture it paints of them, in the eyes of the rest of the world. And, as is usual with the British (who have a very very high opinion of themselves), they don’t want that picture to persist. So they offer the Asantes “half a loaf!” And when the Asantes protest, they can always say. “Ah, we tried to right the wrongs of history. After all, it wasn’t OUR generation that stole the stuff! What our laws allow (written by ourselves, so what) is what we are proposing”. And they expect their consciences to be put to sleep for ever with that.”

You press on: ”And will that happen?”

And I answer: “No! For there are many nations, in this age of

drones and so many other “smart” weapons, who can be tempted to resort to enforcing their own ideas of “justice. Look at what Hamas did to Israel on 7 October 2023. There was no hope of Hamas achieving anything really helpful to the long-term interest of the Palestinian cause, by what they did. But look at the price they have exacted from Israel. In one fell swoop, all the world sympathy for Jews that existed over the holocaust, as well as the residual emotional attachment to the name “Israel '', created out of the devotion of millions of people in the world to the Holy Bible, are at risk of permanent evaporation. Mainly because of the utter ruthlessness of the Israeli Government, which does not care a hoot about the character of Jews, as portrayed by the daily TV pictures. That’s why some Israelis and Jews are shouting on the streets of both Israel and other parts of the world, “NOT IN OUR NAME!”

“So what would you tell the British?” you demand.

“I would say this:” (I reply). “Just imagine that you BRITISH had to go to Italy before you could see the Plays of William Shakespeare.

Or hear the music of Britten or the Beatles; read the novels of Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie. And you could only have that first hand experience for three years”!