South Africa demands Star of Africa return amid King's coronation
While some are calling for the repatriation of the diamond, others opposed the move, saying, "Things have changed, we’re evolving."
On the day of UK King Charles III's coronation, South Africans are demanding that the Star of Africa be returned to where it was unearthed over 100 years ago. The diamond, which is set in the Sovereign’s Scepter, is the world's largest-cut diamond.
According to the report by Reuters, the piece, also known as Cullinan I, is a 530-carat white diamond from the Cullinan diamond which is a 3,100-carat stone mined near Pretoria. The scepter is used by the British monarchy during special ceremonial occasions.
A Change.org petition has gathered 8,200 signatures by Friday afternoon to demand the repatriation of the diamond.
Mothusi Kamanga, a South African lawyer and activist told Reuters, “The diamond needs to come to South Africa. It needs to be a sign of our pride, our heritage, and our culture," adding, “I think generally the African people are starting to realize that to decolonize is not just to let people have certain freedoms, but it’s also to take back what has been expropriated from us.”
Read next: West stole Africa's culture, destroying its future: Report
Not everyone is on the same page, though, as Johannesburg resident Dieketseng Nzhadzhaba said, “I don’t think it matters anymore. Things have changed, we’re evolving... What mattered for them in the olden days about being superior… it doesn’t matter to us anymore.”
The scepter is considered one of the 100 objects known as “The Crown Jewels,” dating back to the 17th century, and “are traditionally a major part of the coronation ceremony when a new monarch officially takes the throne, because each has a special meaning connected to the monarch’s reign," according to a Town and Country report.
The Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross, in which the Star of Africa is set, is “meant to represent the crown’s power and governance” and has been an integral part of coronations since it was created in 1661 for King Charles II’s coronation. It was last seen in public last September on Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin during her state funeral.
This comes amid a massive repatriation campaign since the beginning of this year of artifacts mostly looted from countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East by colonial powers, such as the UK, Europe, and the US.
Read more: New York Met museum to repatriate 15 looted artifacts to India