Left Menu
Development News Edition

Germany to return 15th-century seafarer Cross to Namibia

PTI | Berlin | Updated: 17-05-2019 19:09 IST | Created: 17-05-2019 18:36 IST
Germany to return 15th-century seafarer Cross to Namibia
Image Credit: Pixabay

A German museum said Friday it would return to Namibia a 15th-century navigation landmark erected by Portuguese explorers, as part of Berlin's efforts to face up to its colonial past. "The restitution of the Stone Cross of Cape Cross is a clear signal that we are committed to coming to terms with our colonial past," said Culture Minister Monika Gruetters.

"For too many decades, the colonial time has been a blind spot in our remembrance culture." Placed in 1486 on the western coast of what is today Namibia, the Stone Cross was once considered to be such an important navigation marker that it featured on old world maps. In the 1890s, it was removed from its spot on Cape Cross and brought to Europe by the region's then German colonial masters.

Since 2006, it has been part of a permanent exhibition of the German Historical Museum in Berlin. But in June 2017, Namibia demanded the restitution of the cross, which stands 3.5 metres (11 feet) high and weighs 1.1 tonnes.

The return of the cross marks a concrete step to make good on Germany's pledge to accelerate the return of artefacts and human remains from former African colonies. For Andreas Guibeb, Namibia's ambassador to Germany, the restitution is "important as a step for us to reconcile with our colonial past and the trail of humiliation and systematic injustice that it left behind." "Only the confrontation and acceptance of that painful past will liberate us to consciously and confidently confront the future."

In a column in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the president of the museum's foundation, Raphael Gross, noted that the Cross "is one of the very few objects that document the occupation of the country by the Portuguese". Berlin ruled what was then called South West Africa as a colony from 1884 to 1915.

Germany has on several occasions repatriated human remains to Namibia, where it slaughtered tens of thousands of indigenous Herero and Nama people between 1904 and 1908. The German government announced in 2016 that it planned to issue an official apology for the atrocities committed by German imperial troops.

But it has repeatedly refused to pay direct reparations, citing millions of euros in development aid given to the Namibian government. Guibeb said, "huge progress" had been made in recent years on finding a common language to describe the mass killings, even if he acknowledged that it would take more time than the public would wish.

Meanwhile, other African countries were also watching the latest restitution carefully. For Cameroon's Prince Kum' a Ndumbe III, who had travelled to Berlin especially to witness Friday's announcement, "what has happened here is fundamental."

"This is the direction we have been seeking for the last 30 years, now we have to see how far we will go," he said, adding that he has been pressing a German museum for the return of a family object for years. Beyond what is now modern-day Namibia, the German empire also held the colonies of Togoland, now Togo, Kamerun (Cameroon) and Tanganyika (Tanzania), as well as some Pacific islands, until World War I.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

‘Discounted Deaths’ and COVID 19: Anthropology of Death and Emotions

Death is a social event rather than the mere cessation of biological functions. As seen by anthropologists, death is not just physical but intensely social, cultural, and political....

Indigenous knowledge of communities a must for maximizing impact of community work

Generally, it has been observed that the majority of the academicians in higher education institutions neglect the wisdom of community people and throw their weight around thinking that they know everything and the community knows nothing. ...

In rebuking FBR, Pakistan’s courts take a stand for public health

The system, if implemented effectively, will allow Pakistans revenue service to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products and potentially add hundreds of millions of dollars to the states budget each year. ...

Dissecting how COVID-19 is catalyzing the trajectory of New World Order

The ensuing pandemic of COVID-19 has hit the globalization in two ways firstly, shrinking the importance of globalization as an economic force by curtailing mobility through worldwide lockdowns, and secondly, rejuvenating the idea of indig...

Videos

Latest News

Crashed Pakistan plane hit runway three times on first approach -minister

The captain of a Pakistani airliner that crashed last week, killing 97 people on board, approached Karachi airport without announcing he couldnt open his landing gear and hit the runway three times, a government minister said on Thursday. S...

IMF sees reversal in capital flows out of emerging markets

The International Monetary Fund on Thursday said it estimates that emerging market economies have raised some 77 billion in debt in April and May, partially reversing massive capital outflows of 100 billion seen after the coronavirus outbre...

Special tax on petrol, diesel to mop up revenue to Exchequer

The Commercial Taxes Department here issued a notification on Thursday to impose special VAT value-added tax on petrol and diesel in the whole of the Union Territory. The notification issued by the Secretary to Finance Shurbir Singh pointed...

At least 200,000 New Yorkers to return to work in phase one of city's reopening -mayor

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday outlined what the first phase of a gradual reopening will look like in the most populous U.S. city, and said he expected between 200,000 and 400,000 people to head back to work during that phas...

Give Feedback