Major museums across Europe have agreed to loan important artifacts back to Nigeria for a new museum the country plans to open in2021. The African nation’s Royal Museum will house a rotating display of artifacts, including the Benin bronzes that were looted during the Benin Expedition of1897. The agreement marks a significant step after years of negotiations among European institutions and Nigerian authorities.
… Together, museum leaders from Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Britain agreed to facilitate a display at the planned institution within three years. Further specifics—including which objects will be loaned over what period of time—have yet to be confirmed.
… The objects in question were looted by the British army during a so-called “punitive expedition” in1897. The army took around4,000intricate sculptures, including bronze works now known as the Benin bronzes, from the king’s palace in the former Kingdom of Benin.
A lady dozed off during the pastor’s preaching… Suddenly, she wakes up and hears the pastor say “Stand up.”
She gets up and sees the entire assembly turn toward her. Everyone is in shock, including her husband who is sitting next to her. She looks around and realizes that she is the only one standing. The pastor looks at her and tells her, “Thank you Madam, please remain standing, we will pray for you … We already have one person standing. She is courageous… Anyone else? Nobody? Let me repeat myself, in case you did not hear me well. I asked you to stand if you are unfaithful, if you are committing adultery; if you cannot stop cheating on your partner at each of his missions… Stand up so that we can pray for you.”
In the old days, monkey went to see God and asked him to be like man. God asked him:
Awô, but can you stay locked 100 days in a cage?
Awô answered monkey, I can, I swear !
God locked him up in a box as agreed.
On the morning of the 99th day, monkey looked through a small hole and saw wonders: flowers, ripe mangoes, bananas, a blue sky, expanse of water, a golden light, branches swinging.
Then, with all his strength, monkey broke the door and said:
The world gets beautiful while I am locked up! No way, all these movements outside invite me to the party, I go, I go !!!
He does not finish his monologue and he jumps outside in the open air to live freely like everyone.
That’s why he stayed half-way between man and animal.
Last week I published a poem by Sarah Anyang Agbor about the Anglophone plight in Cameroon, and the fact that Anglophones as any other children of Cameroon are treasured children of the nation and also ‘sing Cameroon’. Given that the history of Cameroon is so intertwined with that of the European colonizer: first becoming a German colony, then after Germany lost World War I, being divided into 2 and shared between France and Great Britain (the spoils of war, I guess), I have decided to publish here a few notes on German protectorates on the West Coast of Africa from 1884 to 1890. Note below that Cameroons, in the Ambas Bay section, refers to Cameroons Town which was the name for present-day Douala, Cribyrefers to the city of Kribi, while Victoriarefers to present-day Limbe in the country Cameroon. Porto Seguro is now Agbodrafo and Little Popo is now known as Anéhoin Togo. South-Western Africarefers to present-day Namibia.
NOTES on German Protectorates on the West Coast of Africa 1884—1890, Map of Africa by Treaty vol 2, P. 694.
On the 5th July, 1884, an Agreement was signed between Germany and Togo, by which the territory of the King of Togo, situated on the West Coast of Africa, from the Eastern frontier of Porto Seguro to the Western frontier of Lome or Bay Beach was placed under the Protectorate of Germany.
Cameroons. Togoland. Slave Coast, &c.
On the 12th July, 1884, a German Protectorate was proclaimed over the whole of the Cameroons District, and on the 15th October of the same year†, the following official communication was made by the German Government to the principal Powers of Europe and to the United States Government, notifying the exact extent of territory on the West and South-West Coasts of Africa which had been placed under the protection of the German Empire :—
Baron von Plessen to Earl Granville.
(Translation.) German Embassy, 15th October, 1884.
“The Government of His Majesty the Emperor, with a view to insure more effectually German commercial interests on the West Coast of Africa, has taken certain districts of this coast under its protection. This has been effected in virtue of Treaties which have been in part concluded by Dr. Nachtigal, the Consul-General dispatched to West Africa, with independent Chiefs, and partly in virtue of applications for protection made by Imperial subjects, who have acquired certain tracts by covenants with independent Chiefs.
“Accordingly, the Togo tract, with the harbours of Lome and Bageida, the districts of Bimbia, with the Isle of Nicol, Cameroons, Malimba, to its northern extremity, Little Batanga, Plantation, and Criby, on the Slave Coast, and the tract of coastland between Cape Frio and the Orange River, with the exception of Valvisch (Walfish) Bay, in South-Western Africa, have been placed under the protection of His Majesty the Emperor. This has been notified by hoisting the Imperial military standard and planting frontier poles, and the engagement at the same time announced that all demonstrable existing rights of third parties are to be respected.”
Ambas Bay, Victoria.
On the 19th July, 1884, a British Notification was issued announcing the assumption of British sovereignty over Ambas Bay,* but this territory was transferred to Germany on the 28th March, 1887, since which date it has formed part of the German Protectorate over the Cameroons.
Mahin and Mahin Beach.
On the 29th January, 1885, Mahin was sold by the King of Mahin to a German subject, Herr G. L. Gaiser ; and on the 11th March, 1885, a Treaty was signed by the King of Mahin with the German Commissioner and Consul-General for the West Coast of Africa, Dr. Nachtigal, for extending a German Protectorate over Mahin and Mahin Beach, but it was not ratified by the German Emperor ; and on the 24th October following, both Mahin and Mahin Beach were ceded to Great Britain.
Bight of Biafra, Slave Coast (Togoland, Little Popo, and Porto Seguro), Senegambia, and Southern Rivers Districts.
On the 24th December, 1885, a Protocol was signed between France and Germany, for defining their respective rights of Sovereignty or Protectorate in the Bight of Biafra, on the Slave Coast (Togoland, Little Popo, and Porto Seguro), on the Coast of Senegambia, and in the Southern Rivers Districts.
British and German Limits.
On the 1st July, 1890, an Agreement was entered into between the British and German Governments defining their respective spheres of influence in East, West, and South-West Africa. With respect to the West Coast, the line of boundary was marked between the British Gold Coast Colony and the German Protectorate of Togo, the Volta Districts, and the Rio del Rey.
† “ National Zeitung,” 15th February, 1885. S.P., vol. lxxvi, p. 756,
A few years ago, I came across this poem by Sarah Anyang Agbor, and thought I will share it with you today. It focuses on the Anglophone issues of Cameroon: institutionalized divisions rooted in colonial legacies. As the Anglophone crisis persists in Cameroon, as the current Cameroonian government persists in trying to split its own country into further little pieces of the pie, under the politics of divide-and-conquer, I had to share this. Where other countries and governments fight to stay one, fight to remain united, fight to serve their compatriots, this 36-year-old Biya regime indulges in tribalism, division, blindness, mismanagement, embezzlement, violence, repression, incompetence, dilapidation of public goods, nepotism, stupidity, cronyism, … and the list is so long.
Agbor’s poem is inspired by the great American Renaissance author Langston Hughes‘ poem ‘I, Too‘ , whose first sentence is I, too, sing America, in which he expresses the Afro-Americans’ experiences of prejudice and discrimination. In ‘I too, sing Cameroon‘, I love the way she manages to say it all in a few words: “I am the ninth and tenth provinces … I too can feel … .” I love the strength in her words. In reality, what she says can also be applied to other provinces and peoples of Cameroon. The 36-year-old regime has not been good to the majority of its population: no roads, no hospitals, no jobs, destruction of the social net, destruction of the educational system, desolation, ruins, nothing good at all, and all should unite to see it gone forever for it is a total failure. Enjoy! The author also read her poem on the BBC Poetry postcards in 2014.
“I too, Sing Cameroon” by Sarah Anyang Agbor
I too sing Cameroon. I am the ninth and tenth provinces Or is it regions? I just want to be human, Not superhuman Accepted as a person
I know how you perceive me: “Traitor”, “Opposition”, BamiAnglo2 A figment of your own imagination. Why do you see an Anglophone and you hear- “Gunshots!? Crisis!? Protests!? Grumblings!? You got criminals! We’ve got criminals!”
I too can feel I too can dream I too can lead. But you look down on me And call me “Anglofou”3 You say you are the top dog And I the underdog. Now I am the country nigger “Anglofou” Now I am the house nigger.
Tomorrow When the stakes are down Will it be my turn to look down at you? Will I call you “Franco Fool?” Or will I call you brother? That tomorrow will surely come No one will dare say to me: “Anglofou”4; “Parlez Anglais”5 “Les Anglos-la”6
Besides, I have walked up the ladder With the virus of bilingualism And I will sit at the table And you will see the good in me.
I too, sing Cameroon!
– 1 Inspired by the talk on Harlem Renaissance, DVC series at the American Embassy in Yaoundé on 28-09-2007. 2 A Bamiléké who has grown up with English as a second language, hence, such a person is a Bamiléké from predominantly French-speaking Cameroon by origin and Anglophone by culture. 3 Anglophone fool; crazy English-speaking person 4 An abusive term, most often used by Francophones, to denigrate Anglophones. 5 Speak English 6 Those Anglophones
It so happens that in our country the Portuguese colonialists did not expropriate the land; they allowed us to cultivate the land. They did not create agricultural companies of the European type as they did, for instance, in Angola, displacing masses of Africans in order to settle Europeans. We maintained a basic structure under colonialism – the land as co-operative property of the village, of the community. This is a very important characteristic of our peasantry, which was not directly exploited by the colonisers but was exploited through trade, through the differences between the prices and the real value of products. This is where the exploitation occurs, not in work, as happens in Angola with the hired workers and company employees. This created a special difficulty in our struggle – that of showing the peasant that he was being exploited in his own country.
Telling the people that “the land belongs to those who work on it” was not enough to mobilise them, because we have more than enough land, there is all the land we need. We had to find appropriate formulae for mobilising our peasants, instead of using terms that our people could not yet understand. We could never mobilise our people simply on the basis of the struggle against colonialism-that has no effect. To speak of the fight against imperialism is not convincing enough. Instead we use a direct language that all can understand:
“Why are you going to fight? What are you? What is your father? What has happened to your father up to now? What is the situation? Did you pay taxes? Did your father pay taxes? What have you seen from those taxes? How much do you get for your groundnuts? Have you thought about how much you will earn with your groundnuts? How much sweat has it cost your family? Which of you have been imprisoned? You are going to work on road-building: who gives you the tools? You bring the tools. Who provides your meals? You provide your meals. But who walks on the road? Who has a car? And your daughter who was raped-are you happy about that?”
Amilcar Cabral on the need to personalize, and adapt the fight to his country’s realities.
Traveling in Africa is not easy, particularly for Africans. Yes… you read it well: it is difficult to travel within Africa if you are African! Why is that, you might ask? Because as African, you will need a visa to almost all the countries on the continent! Not only are the visa fees colossal, but the time to wait for some of these are pretty long, the long lines, the information for the visa changes almost every month (South Africa, I am looking at you) but also there are not that many airlines servicing those countries, especially after the now defunct Air Afrique went bust. Nowadays Ethiopian Airlines, Asky Airlines, RwandAir, Kenya Airways and others are ramping up to help with these, but it is not easy.
Imagine that as a citizen of African country X, I need a visa to visit almost all countries on the continent (except those in the same economic region as mine), and those visa fees are pretty hefty. On top of that, I need a visa to visit all other countries in the world as well. Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, a Nigerian (better passport than mine), expressed the same frustration as mine when he said in 2016, that he needed 38 visas to travel within the continent, while European nationals just waltz into most African countries without visa! How fair is that? And talk about the service at some of those consulates? Or the cost of sending your documents or traveling to a neighboring country because there is no diplomatic representation in yours just to apply for a visa! Moreover, even though you are paying for these visas, and it will benefit the visited country, some of these consulate representatives act as if you were asking them for a favor.
It also costs more to fly to many of these neighboring African countries from within Africa, than to fly to Europe, or Asia, or even America from Africa. It is as if, the contact with other Africans was purposely discouraged so as to make sure that Africans never unite, never learn from past mistakes, remain secluded, and never trade with each other (this, in addition to that slave currency FCFA: France’s Colonial Tax on Africa). For indeed, what could justify that it costs more to fly to Liberia from Ghana than to fly to the UK from Ghana, but a clear wish to stop Liberians from communicating with Ghanaians and realizing that they could trade with each other, instead of the Europeans who are farther away. O Africans, when are you going to wake up and be in charge of your destiny?