Emperor Tewodros II ruled Ethiopia from 1855 until his death in 1868 at the Battle of Maqdala. He is one of Ethiopia’s greatest emperors admired for uniting Ethiopia after Zemene Mesafint, a period in Ethiopian history when the country was divided within into several regions with no effective central authority. After the English overpowered his army in the battle, Tewodros committed suicide on April 13, 1868, with a gun that had been gifted to him by Queen Victoria herself. According to historians, the British used 15 elephants and 200 mules to loot included 500 manuscripts, two gold crowns, replicas of the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, and a royal wedding dress. They also took the emperor’s hair by cutting it from his dead body.
Ethiopia has been calling for the repatriation of the emperor’s locks and remains of his son, Prince Alemayehu who was taken to England after his father’s death. After years of negotiations, the National Army Museum handed it over to Hirut Kassaw, Minister of Ministry of Culture on March 20. The museum received the locks in 1959 from the families of the English army. Despite many Ethiopians eagerness, the hair locks will not be displayed to visitors.
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