The Ngonnso statue is set to finally be returned to the people of Nso more than 120 years after it was illegally removed by the Germans during colonial times. The art object had been stolen by the colonial officer Kurt Von Pavel from the Nso Kingdom in the North West region in 1903.
After 120 years spent outside its land, the “Ngonnso” statue will return to Cameroonian territory. The valuable work of art will be returned to Cameroon by Germany, the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation announced on Monday June 27, 2022 in a press release published on its website. This colonial relic will find its place within the Nso kingdom in the North-West region, where it was stolen in 1903 by the officer Kurt Von Pavel of the former Prussia which became a German territory. The female figure decked out in cowries had been handed over by the Prussian officer to the Ethnological Museum in Berlin, where it had rested ever since.
Among the Bantu, works of art, even simple sculptures, are quite representative in cultures, and are sometimes sources of divinity. In the case of this statue, a campaign by Cameroonian civil society was boldly carried out under the label “Bring Back Ngonnso”, to compel Germany to return it because the Nso people have always complained of having suffered many calamities since the statue was stolen. The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation recognized this importance so many years later, and indicated it in the press release made public on the occasion. “The Ngonnso has a central role for the Nso, because she is considered a mother deity”.
The return of this relic to their lands will comfort the Nso people who suffered for 120 years from the absence of “Ngonnso”, according to Mbinglo Gilles Yumo Nyuydzewira, prince of the Nso kingdom: “After more than 120 years, we cannot than to stay happy because it is a time to commemorate and come closer to our ancestral bonds of love and solidarity. The message remains that of the spiritual and ancestral reunion of the sages with the mother and founder of this great dynasty,” he told Reuters.
This news was seen by the Nso as a massive victory and a well-deserved reunion with “their mother”. For the people of Nso, the Ngonnso statue “…is the very essence of what they embody as a people and their cultural identity”.
The Ngonnso statue, which is now due to return to its original abode, is just one of many other priceless heritages stuck in Europe, such as the Njoya throne and the statue of the Queen of Bangwa, among others.