The German Historical Museum has announced it will return a 15th century monument to Namibia after it was taken during the colonial era.
The Stone Cross is a Portuguese navigation landmark placed on the southwest African coastline by Diego Cão in 1486.
But 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.
Germany has pledged to return artefacts and human remains to its former colonies.
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 as a step for us to reconcile with our colonial past and the trail of humiliation and systematic injustice that it left behind.”
The Minister of State responsible for International Cultural Policy at the Federal Foreign Office, Michelle Müntefering, welcomed an corresponding decision of the DHM board of trustees on Thursday. “The return of cultural goods is an important building block for our common future with Namibia”, said Müntefering.
Portuguese explorer Diego Cão first placed the 3.5 metre stone cross – featuring Portugal’s coat of arms – on Africa’s southwest coast during one of his expeditions.
The cross at, what is now known in Namibia as Cape Cross, became so well known it featured on ancient seafarers’ maps of the area.
A German naval commander during Germany’s colonial rule of German South West Africa during the country’s control of what later became Namibia between 1884 and 1915, decided to take the cross to Germany in 1893.
The German Historical Museum foundation’s president, Raphael Gross, wrote in a press release published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the cross represented “the slow beginning of colonial rule in present-day Namibia.”
The release indicated that the historically significant stone cross of Diego Cão will be returned to Namibia in August this year.