European museums to return West African artifacts

By  on August 21, 2017 — There is a demand for the return of stolen artefacts to the continent. Over 3,000 bronze statues were stolen from the palace of the Oba of Benin, Oba Ovọnramwẹn Nọgbaisi after the British invaded the Benin Kingdom and killed its inhabitants by sending a punitive force of 1,200 soldiers.

The Benin Bronze was taken from the palace at Oba in 1897 Photo: buzznigeria

After many bronze artefacts were stolen from places such as the Benin Kingdom in what is now southern Nigeria and displayed in European museums such as the Ethnological Museum in Berlin and the British Museum, there is an ongoing plan to return them to where they were stolen from.

The Ethnological Museum in Berlin has the largest collection of art from the Benin Kingdom, followed by the British Museum. These collections were stolen during the reign of the Benin King Oba Ovọnramwẹn Nọgbaisi when the British burned down the Benin Kingdom, killed its inhabitants and looted the palace of the Oba of Benin.

Early last year, one of the stolen artifacts, a bronze cockerel known as Okukor,  that stood in the dining hall of Cambridge University was voted by the students under the Jesus College Student Union, to be removed and returned to Nigeria, from whence it was stolen. The bronze cockerel was one of the over 3,000bronze statues looted by the British during the Benin Punitive Expedition in 1897.

Read: Cambridge’s Jesus College students vote to repatriate looted bronze cockerel to Nigeria

Dr Michael Barrett, a senior curator at Stockholm’s Världskulturmuseet told the Guardian that returning the stolen artefacts is a way “this generation of curators . . . finds ways towards reconciliation.”

One of the major issues raised had to do with security arrangements and insurance costs, aside from the legal framework that would be established to guarantee that the artefacts aren’t seized in Nigeria.

The negotiation of stolen properties from Africa is one of the things African countries suffer despite the negative effects of colonialism. Sarah Baartman, whose body parts were exhibited in France at the Museum of Man for more than half a century only just had her remains returned to South Africa in 2002 where she was given a proper burial. These vestiges of colonialism are a testament to the savageness of the Europeans and a testimony to their attitude towards the continent and its inhabitants.

Read: UK citizen returns stolen Benin artefacts after 117 years

Considering the statements by Emmanuel Macron stating that Africa’s problem is civilisation, and also the depiction of African culture and civilisation to be primitive, it is contradictory that such artefacts of such quality which testify otherwise are still being kept in western and European museums.

At a time when the world is redefining its ethical stance on slave owners, and pulling down statues of colonial masters, this is the best time to also return artefacts, and stolen wealth taken away from Africa and carted to various colonial empires

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Letter to a Young Female Physician by Suzanne Koven, M.D. 

Letter to a Young Female Physician

Suzanne Koven, M.D.


May 18, 2017

N Engl J Med 

This past June, I participated in an orientation session during which new interns were asked to write self-addressed letters expressing their hopes and anxieties. The sealed envelopes were collected and then returned 6 months later, when I’m sure the interns felt encouraged to see how far they’d come.

This exercise, in which the intern serves as both letter writer and recipient, both novice and veteran, offers a new twist on an old tradition. In 1855, James Jackson published Letters to a Young Physician Just Entering Upon Practice. More recent additions to this epistolary canon include Richard Selzer’s Letters to a Young Doctor, which appeared in 1982, and Treatment Kind and Fair: Letters to a Young Doctor, which Perri Klass published in 2007 on the occasion of her son’s entry into medical school.

When I started my internship 30 years ago, I wasn’t invited to share my hopes and anxieties in a letter — or anywhere else, for that matter. In fact, I recall no orientation at all, other than lining up to receive a stack of ill-fitting white uniforms, a tuberculin skin test, and a hasty and not particularly reassuring review of CPR.

Perhaps the memory of my own abrupt initiation explains my response as I sat at the conference table watching the new interns hunched earnestly over their letters: I was filled with longing. I wanted so much to tell them, particularly the women — more than half the group, I was pleased to note — what I wished I’d known. Even more, I yearned to tell my younger self what I wished I’d known. As the interns wrote, I composed a letter of my own.

Dear Young Female Physician:

I know you are excited and also apprehensive. These feelings are not unwarranted. The hours you will work, the body of knowledge you must master, and the responsibility you will bear for people’s lives and well-being are daunting. I’d be worried if you weren’t at least a little worried.

As a woman, you face an additional set of challenges, but you know that already. On your urology rotation in medical school, you were informed that your presence was pointless since “no self-respecting man would go to a lady urologist.”

There will be more sexism, some infuriating, some merely annoying. As a pregnant resident, I inquired about my hospital’s maternity-leave policy for house officers and was told that it was a great idea and I should draft one. Decades into practice, when I call in a prescription, some pharmacists still ask for the name of the doctor I’m calling for.

And there will be more serious and damaging discrimination as well. It pains me to tell you that in 2017, as I’m nearing the end of my career, female physicians earn on average $20,000 less than our male counterparts (even allowing for factors such as numbers of publications and hours worked)1; are still underrepresented in leadership positions, even in specialties such as OB–GYN in which we are a majority2; and are subjected to sexual harassment ranging from unwelcome “bro” humor in operating rooms and on hospital rounds to abuse so severe it causes some women to leave medicine altogether.3

But there’s also a more insidious obstacle that you’ll have to contend with — one that resides in your own head. In fact, one of the greatest hurdles you confront may be one largely of your own making. At least that has been the case for me. You see, I’ve been haunted at every step of my career by the fear that I am a fraud.

This fear, sometimes called “imposter syndrome,” is not unique to women. Your male colleagues also have many moments of insecurity, when they’re convinced that they alone among their peers are incapable of understanding the coagulation pathway, tying the perfect surgical knot, or detecting a subtle heart murmur.

I believe that women’s fear of fraudulence is similar to men’s, but with an added feature: not only do we tend to perseverate over our inadequacies, we also often denigrate our strengths.

A 2016 study suggested that patients of female physicians have superior outcomes.4 The publication of that finding prompted much speculation about why it might be so: perhaps women are more intuitive, more empathic, more attentive to detail, better listeners, or even kinder? I don’t know whether any of those generalizations are true, but my personal experience and observations make me sure of this: when women do possess these positive traits, we tend to discount their significance and may even consider them liabilities. We assume that anyone can be a good listener, be empathic — that these abilities are nothing special and are the least of what we have to offer our patients.

I have wasted much time and energy in my career looking for reassurance that I was not a fraud and, specifically, that I had more to offer my patients than the qualities they seemed to value most.

Early on, I believed that displaying medical knowledge — the more obscure the better — would make me worthy. That belief was a useful spur to learning, but ultimately provided only superficial comfort. During my second-year clinical skills course, an oncologist asked me to identify a rash. “Mycosis fungoides!” I blurted out, since it was one of the few rashes whose name I knew and the only one associated with cancer. My answer turned out to be correct, causing three jaws to drop at once — the oncologist’s, the patient’s, and my own — but the glow of validation lasted barely the rest of the day.

A little further on in training, I thought that competence meant knowing how to do things. I eagerly performed lumbar punctures and inserted central lines, and I applied for specialty training in gastroenterology — a field in which I had little interest — thinking that I could endoscope my way to self-confidence.

My first few years in practice, I was sure that being a good doctor meant curing people. I felt buoyed by every cleared chest x-ray, every normalized blood pressure. Unfortunately, the converse was also true: I took cancer recurrences personally. When the emergency department paged to alert me that one of my patients had arrived unexpectedly, I assumed that some error on my part must have precipitated the crisis.

Now, late in my clinical career, I understand that I’ve been neither so weak nor so powerful. Sometimes even after I studied my hardest and tried my best, people got sick and died anyway. How I wish I could spare you years of self-flagellation and transport you directly to this state of humility!

I now understand that I should have spent less time worrying about being a fraud and more time appreciating about myself some of the things my patients appreciate most about me: my large inventory of jokes, my knack for knowing when to butt in and when to shut up, my hugs. Every clinician has her or his own personal armamentarium, as therapeutic as any drug.

My dear young colleague, you are not a fraud. You are a flawed and unique human being, with excellent training and an admirable sense of purpose. Your training and sense of purpose will serve you well. Your humanity will serve your patients even better.

Sincerely,

Suzanne Koven, M.D.

Harvard Medical School

Massachusetts General Hospital

Boston, MA

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