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Germany to return Portuguese Stone Cross to Namibia

Germany to return Portuguese Stone Cross to Namibia

Marthina Mutanga 

THE German Historical Museum has announced that it will return a 15th century monument to Namibia taken during the colonial era.

A museum press release in Germany has confirmed that the cross will be returned in August.

Ovaherero Traditional Authority Paramount Chief, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro, said the descendants of the people who perished under the genocidal orders of the Germans, and whose ancestral lands and other properties were confiscated without compensation by the German government, remain unimpressed by the “insignificant theatrics” being displayed by the German authorities. 

Rukoro said they are getting tired of the little games they are playing with our government, and resolves to engage the real leaders of the victim communities.

“The real and unavoidable issues is acknowledging genocide in unequivocal terms, apologising to the US and paying for collective reparations to the victim communities. Only then shall we take Berlin seriously,” he said. 

Rukoro also noted that in the meantime, they have advised government to reciprocate in kind to the Germans by donating the offensive Marine Monument in front of the State House in Swakopmund to the German Museum, in order to “end the game of theatrics on a 1-1 draw.”

The Stone Cross is a Portuguese navigation landmark placed on the southwest African coastline in 1486.

When the area was under German colonial control in the 1890s, the cross was taken and moved to Europe.

Namibia asked for its return in 2017 and on Friday, the Berlin museum formally agreed to the request.

At a ceremony, German Culture Minister Monika Grütters said it was a “clear signal that we are committed to coming to terms with our colonial past.”

Namibia’s ambassador to Germany, Andreas Guibeb, called it “an important step for us to reconcile with our colonial past and the trail of humiliation and systematic injustice that it left behind.”

Portuguese explorer Diogo Cão first placed the 3.5 meter stone cross – featuring the country’s coat of arms – on Africa’s southwest coast during one of his expeditions.

It became so well known it featured on old maps of the area. 

A German naval commander, however, took the cross in 1893, during the country’s control of what became Namibia between 1884 and 1915.

The German Historical Museum foundation’s president, Raphael Gross, wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the cross represented “the slow beginning of colonial rule in present-day Namibia”.

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