SHF records major milestone in the restitution request for Ngonnso
At long last, Ngonnso will return home. It has been 4years of strategy, intensive campaign and relentless efforts by Sysy House of Fame. For about 30 years now, different stakeholders had been working to ensure the return of Ngonnso from Germany. This includes but not limited to the Fon of Nso, Professor Fanso, and Nso Development Association. These efforts included official request letters and correspondences, and lobbying. In 2018, SHF joined these efforts through the #BringBackNgonnso campaign that started as a personal journey of Sylvie Njobati to dismantle the multiple layers of identity crisis and reconnect to her history and culture.
The statue of the mother of the Nso people, stolen and kept away for over a century, is set to return to her people.
In 2018, Sysy House of Fame started a programme colonial dialogue and reconciliation with focus on the restitution of Ngonnso through the project #BringBackNgonnso.
The use of tools like social media, audiovisual productions, physical protests and the mobilization of stakeholders were implored.
On the 27th of June, one of Germany’s most powerful foundations and one of the world’s largest cultural institutions - the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz - agreed to return the queen mother statue of Ngonnso back to Cameroon.
This obviously is a massive milestone in the project as this decision is a pivotal step of this journey. The success is also attributed to the timely interventions of the different state stakeholders and the contributions of the Nso people.
Till the eventual return, it is essential to engage the next steps with utmost precaution.
The negotiations, handover and return entails Cameroon to create a team and prepare adequately for the next stages. SHF is active in supporting stakeholders to facilitate the process. It is worth noting that this is the first restitution case ever in colonial context that Cameroon is going to be having, making it a learning process. We are supporting in sharing best practices and lessons to enable this become a prototype for other cases.
Sysy House of Fame has been very active in the question of restitution working with stakeholders on both sides. In Cameroon, they include the Ministry of Arts and Culture (National Museum), the Ministry of external relations, the Cameroon Embassy in Germany, and Nso community, and the German stakeholders including the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the German contact point for collections in colonial context and civil society.
The final return is tentatively previewed for the month of December as expressed by both the museum and the Germans, there is a need for prompt action, and for all stakeholders to synchronize actions in order to enter negotiations with the German Stakeholders.
This has now gone into history as the first-ever activist-led restitution success. It also should be noted that this is the first time Cameroon will be involved in the restitution of an object. Therefore, there is going to be a need to involve expertise in the fields of litigation, negotiations among other key steps.