Richard Pankhurst, historian of Ethiopia, dies at 90

2017-02-21 10:47
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Addis Ababa - A leading historian on Ethiopia and staunch advocate for the return of plundered artefacts, Richard Pankhurst, has died in the capital Addis Ababa aged 90, his family said on Friday.

Pankhurst died on Thursday of pneumonia, his daughter-in-law, Konjit Seyoum told AFP.

Born in London in 1927, Pankhurst first moved to Ethiopia in 1950 with his mother, Sylvia Pankhurst, a British suffragette and campaigner against the Italian occupation of the country during World War Two.

She later became an advisor to emperor Haile Selassie.

After his mother's death in 1960, Richard Pankhurst continued to live in Ethiopia on and off for the rest of his life, lecturing at a university in the capital and pushing the governments of Britain and Italy to hand over artefacts they had taken from the country.

"He was a good friend of Ethiopia and the Ethiopian people," foreign ministry spokesperson Tewolde Mulugeta told AFP.

A teacher and author of more than 25 books and hundreds of articles, Pankhurst founded the Institute of Ethiopia Studies at Addis Ababa University.

He left Ethiopia in 1976 and joined the London School of Economics as a research fellow, before returning in 1987.

Pankhurst became well-known for his calls to repatriate relics plundered by the Italian occupiers and British army.

He lobbied hard to recuperate the Axum obelisk which was looted by the army of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini in 1937 and was eventually returned to Ethiopia in 2005.

Five years later, an ancient prayer book that had been missing for decades was returned to the country by an American collector.

Read more on:    ethiopia  |  east africa

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