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Ancient stolen Ethiopian crown set to be returned home

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An 18th Century Ethiopian crown will finally be returned home after being hidden in a Dutch flat for 21 years.

Ethiopian Sirak Asfaw, who fled to the Netherlands in the late 1970s, discovered the crown in the suitcase of a visitor and realised it was stolen.

The management consultant has protected it until he felt safe to send it back.

“Finally it is the right time to bring back the crown to its owners – and the owners of the crown are all Ethiopians.

The crown is thought to be one of just 20 in existence. It has depictions of Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit, as well as Jesus’ disciples, and was likely gifted to a church by the powerful warlord Welde Sellase hundreds of years ago.

It is currently being stored at a high security facility until it can be safely returned.

What’s the story of the crown?

Mr Sirak left his home country in 1978 to escape the political repression of the Communist government, or Derg, which had come to power in 1974. The regime unleashed a wave of violence known as the Red Terror, which killed hundreds of thousands and forced many to leave.

The former refugee used to host Ethiopians who had left the country in his Rotterdam flat throughout the 1980s and 1990s. “Friends, refugees, whoever,” he said. It was one of these visitors staying at his home in 1998 who was carrying the crown in his bag.

“Most people don’t really care about this cultural heritage,” he said. “I’m loyal to Ethiopia.”

Mr Sirak confronted the man and insisted the crown was not leaving unless it could be returned to its home.

After asking for help on internet forums – which yielded no useful answers – he decided the best course of action was to hold onto the crown until he knew it would be safe.

“You end up in such a suffocating situation, not knowing who to tell or what to do, or to hand over,” he said. “And of course afraid that the Dutch government might confiscate it.”

“I had fire alarms all over my house, eight or something like that. Really scared!”

But with the end of the former regime and the election of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed last year, Mr Sirak felt the time was right to have a piece of Ethiopia’s history return to Addis Ababa.

He contacted Arthur Brand, known as the “Indiana Jones of the art world”, for help returning it home.

“I explained to him, look, either the crown will disappear or you [will], if you continue like this, “I said if the people who were involved at the time got knowledge of it, the risk was that they would come back and would take the crown from him.”

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24 Hours Across Africa

Man United sweating over De Gea fitness

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Manchester united has suffer injury blow after David de Gea picked up a muscle injury on international duty, Spain took no chances to substitute him with Kepa Arrizabalaga in 60minutes.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has not given any update on his fitness ahead of Manchester United’s clash with Liverpool.

The United goalkeeper appeared to tweak a hamstring while taking a goal kick during the second half of Spain’s Euro 2020 qualifier with Sweden on Tuesday night.

They face current league leaders Liverpool who possess a potent front three in Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane and Solskjaer will be desperately hoping his star goalkeeper will be fit, with United on a woeful run of form.

While, United could be without their De gea and Paul pogba this weekend, Liverpool are set to welcome back their star goalkeeper Alisson.

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24 Hours Across Africa

Bahaa admits standing-in for Mo Salah in Tv ads

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Ahmad Bahaa says he has acted as a stand-in for the Liverpool and Egypt striker in TV commercials.

Electronics engineer Bahaa told an Egyptian talk show on Al-Nahar TV he had appeared as Salah in mobile phone and soft drinks adverts, as well as an anti-drugs campaign.

“I did several ads with Salah,” he said.

Bahaa only appears in wide shots, not close-ups.

Mo Salah and Ahmad Bahaa

Seeing double? Mo Salah and his lookalike

“Salah of course can’t stay for long to shoot a single ad,” Bahaa explained.

“I would spend a couple of days [shooting] here, while they complete [filming] with him in England.

“This is just to speed up the process because he doesn’t have a lot of time to spare.”

@ Anttention Fresh,                
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