Repatriation of Emperor/Females to replace men in syllabus – Poetry News Roundup March 5th

Today in our poetry news roundup we look at the poet who has lent his voice to the campaign to repatriate remains from an Ethiopian emperor to the people of Ethiopia. We also look at the girls’ school calling for the replacement of “Stale males” in the exam syllabus.

Poet Backs Campaign to repatriate Ethiopian Remains

A formal request from Ethiopia for locks of hairs belonging to Tewodros II, the Emperor, to be returned to them has been agreed to by the Army Museum.

The locks of hair were taken from the head of the Emperor who opted to kill himself in 1868 instead of giving himself up to Britain during the capture of his mountainous capital of Maqdala. During this time many treasures, including a golden crown as well as a wedding dress, were plundered by the British.

The hair was given to the museum by an artist’s family. The artist had painted a picture of Tewodros II on his death bed. One of them is framed together with a letter as well as the seal of the emperor. They were added to the museum’s collection in good faith as part of the connection to a historical campaign that the British fought in.

The display containing the hair has been called inhumane by the government in Ethiopia, and they want the hair returned to them so that it can be placed with the rest of the emperors remains.

The museum has given the request careful consideration and believes that repatriation of the hair is the most appropriate course of action.

The poet and author Lemm Sissay has given his backing to this campaign and also that to repatriate the remains of Prince Alemayehu, the 7-year-old son of the emperor who was a favourite of Queen Victoria and is buried at Windsor Castle in St Georges Castle at her request. 

Over the years, museums in Britain have received requests to return any hundreds of objects from their collections. Each request is assessed on its own individual circumstances before a decision is made whether to return it or not.

“Stale” Males Targeted by Girls’ Schools

Two top private girls’ schools in South London are calling for what they have termed “Stale, Pale” men to be replaced on both the GCSE and A-Level exam syllabuses in favour of female scientist, classicists, writers, poets and composers.

They want to see the likes of Macbeth by William Shakespeare replaced with The Rover by Aphra Behn. They want Ada Lovelace, the mathematician, and daughter of the poet Lord Byron, to become a more well-known name and classics courses to include Sappho, the Greek female poet.

A sixth form pupil from Streatham and Clapham High School has written to the education secretary to complain that “school is just a magical mystery tour of white men’s achievements”. Her letter has the backing of the Girls’ Day School Trust who would like children to be educated from such books as “Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World” and this means sweeping reforms for the syllabuses of both GCSE’s and A-Levels may need to be considered.

What do you think, should some of the men in the syllabus be replaced with women?

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