Germany to Return Stolen Sacred Statue to Cameroon

Statue of Ngonnso (Source: Mimimefoinfos.com)

Germany has agreed to return a sacred statue stolen in Cameroon in 1902 by a German soldier in the Nso kingdom in the Northwest region of Cameroon. The statue is the only depiction of the queen mother of the Nso people. For the story, Ngonnso founded Banso which marks the beginning of the Nso kingdom in the 14th century when she separated from her two brothers Nchare Yen, the founder of Foumban the capital and the Bamun Kingdom, and Mbe who founded Bankim. From Nso oral history, it is said that Ngonnso was able to conquer, defeat, and ensure that all Nso people stay together. She was a strong woman, who embodied the history and identity of the Nso people. When the German colonial commander in visit in Banso “took” the statue via unknown means in 1902, 120 years ago, it is as if the soul of the Nso people was gone. Special note of gratitude to all activists who demanded the return of Ngonnso for years, and to Sylvie Njobati who launched the @BringBackNgonnso Twitter account in March 2020, tweeting demands for Ngonnso’s restitution and tagging the German museum and its leaders. As always, unity is strength!

To learn more about the return of Ngonnso, check out the article on CNN, and NewsCentralAfrica. The excerpt below is from the BBC.

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Germany has agreed to return a sacred statue stolen from Cameroon at the beginning of the last century.

The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which manages the museums in the capital, Berlin, said it would return the female figure, known as Ngonnso, to the Nso community in north-west Cameroon.

The statue was taken by a colonial officer and donated to Berlin’s Ethnological Museum in 1903.

A prince from the Nso kingdom told the Reuters news agency that the announcement was warmly received 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,” Mbinglo Gilles Yumo Nyuydzewira is quoted as saying.

The foundation also said that it will return 23 pieces to Namibia and is planning an agreement to repatriate objects to Tanzania.

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