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« Congo: So You Too Can Cry Mr. President? | Main | Cameroon Literature in English – Vibrant but Invisible »

March 22, 2009


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Dutch to return Ghana king's head
The head of a Ghanaian king executed by Dutch colonists in the 1830s is to be returned to its homeland for burial, say authorities in the Netherlands.

Badu Bonsu II, leader of the Ahanta group, is believed to have been decapitated in retaliation for the killing of two Dutch emissaries.

The Leiden museum, which has been storing the head, said it hoped it could now have a dignified burial.

Ghana had said the king would not be at rest if the head remained where it was.

King Bonsu is thought to have been executed after the two officials were killed during a rebellion against European rule in the country, hanging their heads on his throne as a trophy.

At some point, the king's head was taken from Ghana to the Netherlands, and has been kept in a jar of formaldehyde at the Leiden University Medical Centre ever since.

Author Arthur Japin told Dutch media last year that he once saw the head while researching a historical novel.

"He's got a little ring beard, his eyes are closed as if he's sleeping," said Mr Japin.

"My first thought was, this is not fitting."

After hearing of the head's location in 2008, Ghana filed a request for its return, saying if it remained unburied the king would be incomplete and therefore "hunted in the afterlife".

'Good thing'

Now, a Dutch culture ministry spokesman has said the museum has decided to "restore the head to Ghana" as a matter of dignity.

“ As he was a king, putting his head on display would amount to some form of humiliation for his people ”
Prof Addo-Fening
"This is a king," Freek Manche told the AFP news agency, emphasising its importance.
The museum said in a statement that officials had been in contact with Ghana to arrange for the careful return of the preserved head.

They said they had not allowed any photographs to be taken out of respect for the human remains.

The BBC's Will Ross in Accra says respect for the dead has huge cultural significance in Ghana.

Ghanaian historian Prof Addo-Fening told the BBC that the museum's decision was "very, very important".

"When people die and their bodies are not found and buried, it leaves a lingering fear that they will not find rest with their ancestors until this is done," he said.

"As he was a king, putting his head on display would amount to some form of humiliation for his people - but they now have an opportunity to show some reverence to their late king before they bury him."

"I imagine that this will be a a good thing for the psyche of the community," he said.

Museum spokesman Marleen van't Oever told AFP that no date had yet been arranged for the return but it was "likely to be in the long term".

The museum's move follows decisions by other western museums to return items taken during colonial times or explorations.

In 2006, the University of Aberdeen in Scotland returned to New Zealand the preserved heads of nine tattooed Maori tribesman seized in the 19th Century.

The same year, Britain's Natural History Museum returned the remains of 18 indigenous people taken from Australia.

Story from BBC NEWS:


This site post rare stories which at times are very educative and interesting. So what finally happened to the Afo-A-Kom? Was it returned to Cameroon? That is how art dealers come to our country and steal away objects of great value only to end up selling them in their country of origin. Again one will ask the question that where were our customs when the Afo-A-Kom was being ferried out of Cameroon? Surely they were bribed as usual to look the other way. Shame.

Yuh Patrice Ngong

The team of "Cameroon Travel and Tourism Agency" having an experience of more than 20 years as a cultural adventures tour operator in Cameroon has organized almost every type of adventure tours in Cameroon, whether this was climbing a high mountain, river rafting tour, trekking the gorges and expanses of mount Cameroon, meditating on the isolated hills of Aduk . Or an experience of travelling with the train of `CAMRAIL`to the northern region for the real wildlife in the Waza and Bouba ndjida National parks. In general and particularly "Palaces ". We have explored new routes in the early days of meeting the FONS and by doing so we learned the job the hard way.

We are always there to look for new horizons in the world of adventure travel and so we started organizing cultural tours in the north region recently, a great favorite with our customers now. This is a fastest growing side of our business. `CULTURAL ADVENTURES`.

In Central Africa Subcontinent which has very high touristic potentials as adventure travel destination in addition to the culture, wildlife, beaches, trekking tours, mountain climbing, cultural journey's through the mighty FONDOMS. Wildlife being another paradise is being also taken care. Whether you want to send a couple on a honeymoon safari to the coastal region, or a 20-member expedition or a trekking group to mount Cameroon, no job is too small or too big for us.

Let CTTA serve you to organize your adventure tours to Cameroon. If you do not find a program for you or your groups, please contact us and we will work out a ready-made/tailor made adventure tour program to suite your special requirements, as we did in the past for innumerable customers. Join one of the adventure tours under your own power and to live with nature. We promise you a memorable experience of adventurous holiday in Cameroon.

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