Royal Visit from Cameroon at the Municipal Museum of Brunswick
From 11-15.07.2022 His Majesty King Fontem Asabaton Njifua visited the Municipal Museum of Brunswick with a delegation of eight Bangwa title holders. The occasion of the visit were 46 objects from the Bangwa Kingdom of "Lebang", which came to Brunswick during the German colonial period. Kurt Strümpell (1876-1947), who was born in Schöningen and later stationed in the German colony of Cameroon as an officer in the colonial army, gave the objects to the Städtisches Museum in 1902.
Since 2019, the ethnographic collection from Cameroon at the Municipal Museum has been researched as part of the joint project PAESE (Provenance Research in Non-European Collections and Ethnology in Lower Saxony) funded by the VW Foundation. Researcher Isabella Bozsa found out that the colonial officer Strümpell appropriated the Bangwa collection in the context of violent military actions to consolidate German colonial rule in Cameroon. With the help of archival material, she was able to trace three objects - two ceremonial staffs and a prestigious sword - to the then Bangwa ruler Fontem Asunganyi (c. 1870-1951) as previous owner.
Through a collaborative research approach, Isabella Bozsa established contact with descendants of Fontem Asunganyi or representatives of the present Bangwa kingdom. In the summer of 2021, Chief Charles Taku was the first to visit the museum. This year, His Majesty personally followed with another eight delegation members who travelled from the international diaspora as well as Cameroon. The inspection of the objects was highly emotional and a moment of reconnection of the Bangwa with part of their cultural heritage that was thought to be lost. The king and the delegation identified their kingdom as the origin of the objects and are now claiming them back.
The historic moment of the visit of the King of the Bangwa, Asabaton Fontem Njifua, was topped off with an entry in the Golden Book of the City of Brunswick. The visit of the King and the delegation was preceded by a correspondence between the King and the Lord Mayor of Brunswick, Thorsten Kornblum.