Bring Back Ngonnso - The Campaign So Far
The disappearance of Ngonnso after the burning of the Nso palace in 1902 by the Germans has put every Nso person on alert as endless misfortunes have become the order of the day. The #BringBackNgonsso campaign was born in 2021 with main goal as; ‘Ensure the restitution of Ngonnso by 2022.
The relationship between Germany and Cameroon dates back to 12thjuly 1884, which began with the signing of the Germano-Duala Treaty. This treaty made Cameroon a German protectorate. The villages in the interior became resistant as the Germans ventured further. Each act of resistance was retaliated with a punitive expedition, to put the backs of the indigenes on the ground and forcing them to succumb to the German rule. It was during one of the expeditions by the Germans that Ngonnso was taken from the palace in an act of thievery, after setting up the palace in flames. However,Ngonnso was not the only item, a host of other valuables were moved as well, though the Ngonnso is the most important.
Prominent on the request for restitution, in 2007 with the Fon who made a request through the regional delegate of arts and culture to the ministry of artsand culture. This was followed by other requests in 2008(by Prof Tangwa), 2009(by Prof Keller), and 2011 (by the Fon). In the same 2011, the first letter from the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation was sent to the Fon of Nso with a denial to restituteNgonnso. They stated that it could only be given as a loan.
In May 2021, a digital campaign on restitution was initiated by Njobati Sylvie who has been active in the domain of colonial dialogue and reconciliation since 2018. The campaign is managed by the Sysy House of Fame. The objective of this campaign is to use multimedia tools such as; social media, films and conferences to fuel the campaign and drive it to its destination. The social media performance and progress is growing at a geometric rate, as restitution is becoming a global topic of interest. So far we have been able to feature in conferences like the PAESE Conference where we made our case on the restitution ofNgonnso, produced 3 documentaries and protested infront of the Humboldt Forum on September 22nd 2021 during the opening ceremony of the museum.
The protest which was a huge success for the entire team and a milestone. It gave us the attention we needed from our target audience which was the president of the Prussian Cultural heritage Foundation and the world.
In a formal meeting with Mr Herman Parzinger, an official letter from the Fon of Nso( HRH SehmMbinglo I)was handed to him through Njobati Sylvie and Viban Valerie. The outcome of this meeting was a willingness to dialogue with the Nso people and a preparatory workshop before the dialogue.
While this is meant to keep the hopes of the Nso people alive, we look forward to the workshop scheduled for December 10th 2021. This will involve a handful of historians and activists from Nso and historians from Germany. Our hope is for participants to come to a compromise that restitution is the inevitable solution.