A NEW BBC World Service documentary starting today will be presented by Newcastle's Kema Sikazwe.

The Zambian born actor, rapper and singer moved to the North-East aged three and has since appeared in theatre, television shows including Wolfblood, The Dumping Ground and Vera, and played the role of China in Ken Loach’s award-winning film I, Daniel Blake.

In Finders Keepers, he explores the long-held convention that Western collections of art and culture are ‘inalienable’.

Huge amounts of cultural artefacts are held in museums and private collections outside the continents from which they originated, much of which was looted, stolen, bought under duress or borrowed and never returned.

The three-part series asks if these historic pieces should be returned and if so at what cost both to the originating country and to the guardians who have maintained the relics for centuries.

With access to key protagonists in the ongoing battle for cultural control, the three-part series explores first the perspective of people who want their objects back; secondly, the response of the heritage sector in responding to their claims and finally, follows the controversies that can arise when objects are eventually returned.

Locations visited include London’s Horniman Museum, where Kenyan storyteller and curator JC Niala recalls her visit to an exhibition in Nairobi where she was shocked to find a photograph of her grandfather on display and Amsterdam’s famous Tropenmuseum where a government panel is deciding how artefacts seized from the former Dutch colonies are repatriated.

The Northern Echo:

Kema himself found the series a revelation into his own background and culture.

He said: “I came to the UK at the age of three and I wasn’t aware of the extent of items that found their way out of Zambia and into European collections. It really made me think and I hope the series will do the same to the listener.”

The series is a Scattered Pictures production run by RTS award winning Newcastle-based actress, presenter, writer, producer Kim Tserkezie.

Keen always to showcase North East talent, Kim was eager to have Kema present the series, aware he was interested to explore his heritage further in his work.

She was also thrilled to have Newcastle-based Andy Jones (Radio Film) and Will Sadler (Anya Media) on board to produce.

The documentary series is the company’s third radio commission by the BBC World Service following the acclaimed Migrants Mean Business in 2018 and Funeral Punks in 2020. Both are available on BBC Sounds.

Finders Keepers will air on BBC World Service from December 2 and online catch up services.