By Kwame Opoku
We thought for a long time that a notable characteristic of British officials was a certain diplomatic approach but on hearing MacGregor and his associates, we start thinking that this assessment perhaps requires a drastic revision, if not, a total reverse.
The recent statements of the British Museum director are not exactly calculated to foster harmonious relations with the Greeks and the Greek government. But who ever said that museums are there, among other things, to foster good relations between nations and cultures?
MacGregor put forward a diversionary argument in the following statement:
â€œThe real question is about how the Greek and British governments can work together so that the sculptures can be seen in China and Africaâ€.
Who told MacGregor that Africans are dying to see the Parthenon Marbles?
We would be happy if the British Museum could return some of the looted African artefacts like the Benin bronzes. He should not underestimate the intelligence of mankind.
Everybody can see how the British Museum Director and his supporters are now lost for argument. Whatever else the British Museum and its officials do in this matter, I plead fervently that they leave the Chinese and the Africans out of this matter.
Our peoples have always, through the United Nations and UNESCO supported the Greeks on this issue just as the majority of the British people are in favour of returning the Marbles. The Scottish Parliament has also spoken in favour of the Greeks.
It has become very clear for all those who follow cultural affairs that there is no serious intention on the part of the British Museum to discuss the question of the Elgin/Parthenon Marbles.(7) This is doing an enormous damage to the reputation of the British in the world of culture.
These insulting statements were delivered by MacGregor from the respectable London School of Economics, University of London. The LSE has always had a solid reputation abroad even during the worst periods of British colonialism and imperialism.
Could we plead with MacGregor and others not to drag the reputation of the respectable institution into the mud by preaching and expounding unfounded arguments there?