Germany has revealed its decision to return some of the priceless artifacts stolen from Africa during the colonial era.
According to reports, the Western European country would return some historical artifacts to their home countries in Cameroon, Tanzania, and Namibia.
Unlike some other cases, where stolen African artifacts were only loaned back to their country of origin for a period of time, German officials say they intend to permanently return the historical treasures to their homelands.
Many of the artifacts stolen by Germany from Africa during the colonial era were recently transferred to the Ethnological Collections and Asian Art exhibitions at the Humboldt Forum in Berlin, Germany, on 20 September 2021.
The exhibition led to widely publicized criticism – with activists across the world calling for the historical artifacts to be returned to their original owners.
Reacting to the backlash, the Berlin-based Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which manages all the museums in the German capital, revealed yesterday that it had entered into negotiations with Cameroon, Namibia, and Tanzania, to return the artifacts.
Among the stolen artifacts set to be returned is the priceless shell-studded statue of mother goddess Ngonnso. The statue is believed to have a strong spiritual significance to the people of Nso, who live in the northwest region of Cameroon. The statue was stolen from the Central African country 120 years ago during the colonial era.
The statue was stolen by a colonial officer by the name of Kurt von Pavel, and donated to the Berlin’s Ethnological Museum in 1903.
For many years, many activists and civil societies like the “Bring Back Ngonnso” foundation have been campaigning for the return of the statue.
“The Ngonnso’ has a central role for the Nso’, as she is considered a mother deity,” the foundation said in a statement.
It added the artifact was not removed by war looting from Kumbo, the capital of the Nso kingdom, as it is widely claimed. However, Pavel, in the company of heavily armed soldiers, intimidated the people of Nso, and took away the ancestral goddess.
You will recall that last year, Germany announced its intention to return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria, which were looted during the colonial era. The European country has also apologized for its role in the slaughter of Herero and Nama tribespeople in Namibia more than a century ago.
Reacting to the news of Ngonnso’s return, Mbinglo Gilles Yumo Nyuydzewira, a prince in the Nso kingdom, said the news had been received with great joy.
“After more than 120 years, we can only remain happy for it is a moment to commemorate and come closer to our ancestral links with love and togetherness,” Yumo Nyuydzewira told reporters.
“The message remains that of reuniting spiritually and ancestral wise with the mother and founder of this great dynasty,” Yumo Nyuydzewira said.
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