As part of a rising agitation for the return of artifacts stolen during the colonial era, Germany will return a goddess statue Ngonnso’ that was confiscated from Cameroon 120 years ago, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation announced on Monday.
The kingdom of Nso’ in northwest Cameroon will receive the female statue known as Ngonnso’. Kurt von Pavel, a colonial commander, took it and gave it to the Berlin Ethnological Museum in 1903.
A civil society effort called “Bring Back Ngonnso” has been advocating for the monument’s return for years since the Nso people claim that various tragedies have befallen them since the statue was taken.
“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 artefact was not removed by war looting from Kumbo, the capital of the Nso kingdom. However, Pavel was accompanied by armed soldiers in Cameroon, which would have intimidated the Nso’, the foundation said.
The organisation also declared that it will return 23 items to Namibia and that it was working on a deal to return items to Tanzania.
Germany was the third-largest colonial power after Britain and France, but it lost all of its colonial possessions following World War One. While historians and politicians concentrated on the consequences of Nazi crimes, such as the Holocaust, the colonial past of the country was disregarded for a long time.
Germany apologized for its role in the more than a century-old massacre of Herero and Nama tribe members in Namibia and declared this year that it would return Benin Bronzes to Nigeria.
But many historic artifacts are still on show in its museums, like pieces of the Babylon gate from Iraq, which are on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
Hermann Parzinger, president of the foundation, stated that in order for items to be eligible for repatriation, they do not necessarily need to have been taken unfairly, such as during looting.
Mbinglo Gilles Yumo Nyuydzewira, an Nso kingdom prince, said the news was received warmly in Cameroon.
“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 newsmen.
“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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