Germany to return statue of a goddess stolen from Cameroon 120 years ago. The return of the priceless Cameroonian statue is part of a growing trend to return colonial-era artifacts back to nations where they originally belong.
According to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the female statue known as Ngonnso’, was among looted artifacts from the kingdom of Nso’ in northwest Cameroon. It was stolen in 1903 by colonial officer Kurt von Pavel and handed over to the Ethnological Museum in Berlin.
For years, the “Bring Back Ngonnso,” civil society action has been trending on and offline, with dozens of Cameroonians making efforts to reach the German government to quickly facilitate the return of the statue.
According to local reports the Nso people believe that several tragedies that has since befallen their communities could be traced back to the moment the statue was stolen.
As noted by the foundation, the statue of the goddess, ‘Ngonnso’ plays a central role for Nso’ people as she is considered a mother goddess.”
It was added that the artifact 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’ people to deliver their most loved artifact.
The foundation also announced it would return 23 items to Namibia and is planning an agreement to return items to Tanzania.
Germany was the third-largest colonial power after Great Britain and France, but it lost all of its colonial territories following World War I. However, its colonial past was ignored for decades as historians and politicians focused on the legacy of Nazi crimes, including the Holocaust.
Last year, Germany announced its intention to return Benin bronzes to Nigeria and apologized for its role in the massacre of Herero and Nama tribes in Namibia more than a century ago.
However, its museums still house many famous artifacts, such as parts of Iraq’s Babylon Gate on display at Berlin’s Pergamon Museum.
The Foundation’s president, Hermann Parzinger, explained that regardless of the circumstance and whether the items were looted, other reasons may warrant their return.
“The special – especially spiritual—significance of an object to the community of origin can justify a return,” Parzinger said.
Mbinglo Gilles Yumo Nyuydzewira, prince of the Nso kingdom, said the news was warmly received in Cameroon.
“After more than 120 years, we can only remain happy because it’s a time to celebrate and get closer to our ancestral connections with love and togetherness,” Yumo Nyuydzewira told Reuters.