Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – After five years on tour in the United States, the 3.2 million year old Ethiopian fossil, Lucy (Dinknesh) returned to Addis Abeba on Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
Lucy left Ethiopia in August 2007, after an agreement was signed between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Houston Museum of Natural Science in July 2007.
Lucy, along with 148 otherÃ‚Â artefacts, travelled to US under the theme Ã¢â‚¬ËœLucyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Legacy: The Hidden Treasures of EthiopiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢.
When the fossil began its tour exhibition of 11 American cities, the decision to transport her caused much controversy with historians and archaeologists who worried about damages and losses that could be devastating to the nation and documented proof of evolutionary history.
The famous fossil earned 1.5 million dollars while she was on tour.
Discovered in 1974, by American scientist Donald C. Johanson, the fossil was confirmed to have 40pc of the skeleton of Australopithecus Aphaeresis; a distant precursor to the Homo sapiens which scientists estimated lived 3.2 million years ago.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It was a big success for the Ethiopian tourism sector,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Amin Abdulkadir, minister of Culture and Tourism (MoCT) at the press conference held at the National Museum.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tourism from the US has risen to 35,000 people a year,Ã¢â‚¬Â he added.
Ethiopian scientist Zeresenay Alemseged (PhD), who accompanied Lucy during her five-year trip, said that the fossil sent a message for the rest of the world that Ethiopia is the foundation of human evolution and the place where human history can be traced to its very beginnings.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“LucyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s message to humanity is really that we all have common origins,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Johanson who accompanied his precious find home.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“When we sent Lucy out for a long visit, we felt a sense of emptiness here,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Berhane Asfaw (PhD), a scientist at the National Museum. Ã¢â‚¬Å“It will be good having her back.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The original Lucy fossil will be put on display for a week on May 7, 2013 along with the 148 artefacts that travelled with her. She will then be on display at the African Union Summit, after which time, she will return to the safety of the vaults inside the National Museum.
The Museum carries replicas of theÃ‚Â artefactsÃ‚Â for its permanent display.
Although the tourism sector is still in its infant stage, it has been growing steadily since 2001. Revenues reported at the end of the 2011/12 fiscal year showed earnings of 461 million dollars.
This is, however, insignificant when compared to other sub-Saharan countries.Kenya, managed to earn close to 1.12 billion dollars from the sector during the same period. Unlike Ethiopia,Kenya has invested significantly in tourism infrastructure, leading to higher revenues, according to a study.