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More than 40,000 Cameroonian objects remain in Germany to this day – study

An estimated 40,000 Cameroonian artifacts are still in Germany according to a recent study jointly carried out by Cameroonian and German researchers.

Prof. Albert Gouaffo, of Dschang University and Bénédicte Savoy, a professor at the Technische Universität in Berlin headed the study and during their presentation, stated that the number of Cameroonian objects spread across German museums was far more than the meager 6,000 which are housed in Yaounde.

Germany colonized Cameroon from 1884 until her defeat in the First World War in 1918 and during the 34 years of German rule, colonial troops carried out at least 180 “punitive expeditions” to secure land, laying waste to villages and farms and looting or destroying cultural heritage.

The artifacts in German museums include textiles, musical instruments, ritual masks, royal stools, thrones, manuscripts, and weapons mostly taken from the Grassfields of Cameroon where German rule was strongly resisted.

Among the objects listed in the study are a beaded stool from Baham in the present-day West Region, looted during a punitive exhibition and brought back by German army officer, Hans Glauning. The stool is now in the Linden Museum in Stuttgart; a wooden carved drum, also a war trophy now kept at Berlin’s Ethnological Museum, and a beaded cap belonging to a Cameroonian traditional leader, now in the Linden Museum, that was one of 237 objects plundered over nearly 3 years by Glauning.

Cameroonian authorities at the Cameroon embassy in Germany have begun talks with German authorities to discuss a process of restitution for the items.

In June 2022, German authorities announced that they were returning the Ngonnso, a deity of the Nso People in the Grassfields of Cameroon, forcibly taken by German authorities in the early 1900s. The announcement was widely celebrated and the Ngonnso has since been returned to the Nso People.

Germany’s colonial past has come to haunt the country and discussions are underway to return these objects taken from Cameroonian villages and tribes over 100 years ago.

Source: Cameroon News Agency

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