The Ministry of Arts and Culture has told parliament that moves are being made for the return of Cameroonian artefacts carted away by former colonial masters. In its 2023 Finance Bill report, the National Assembly recalled that it quizzed Minister Bidoung Kpwatt on the existence of a legal framework for safe recovery of artefacts taken to Europe by colonial masters.
Minister Kpwatt, the report noted, “explained that with respect to the possibility of preparing an appropriate schedule for the return of Cameroon’s cultural works held in Europe, his ministry is currently working on this issue…”
In addition to this, MINAC, he revealed has been working with other administrative stakeholders for a concerted front to seek the return: “He further said that an inter-ministerial committee has been set up to define, in collaboration with the administrations of the countries concerned, a consensual strategy for the return of our cultural heritage,” added the report.
Government action is expected to compliment actions by restitution activists who have for many years, clamoured for the return of artefacts looted during the colonial era. The most recent success story is of the Ngonnso’ statue of the Nso people carted 120 years ago.
Earlier this year, German authorities said they were going to return the structure, a move which has seen led to further talks with restitutionist activists.
The return of Ngonnso, restitution activist, Sylvie Njobati told GIYO, “is a win for Cameroon because it is going to be the first restitution case ever in Cameroon. It is also a big win for Africa because it goes a long way to prove that we all as Africans have the right and power to go out there and fight for restitution. All you need to be is an African.”
Yet, it remains uncertain at the moment if government and the concerned activists are working in synergy to avoid conflicts of interests both abroad and home where the artefact will be returned.