20 May 2019

Namibia: Germany to Return Cape Cross Padrão

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(File photo).

THE more than 500-year-old Portuguese stone cross of Cape Cross will be repatriated to Namibia by August, Namibia's ambassador to Germany, Andreas Guibeb, announced on Friday.

Guibeb said on his Facebook page that the announcement was made as a joint statement by himself, the German minister of culture and media, Monika Grutters, and the president of the German Historical Museum in Berlin, Raphael Gross, at an event held at the museum.

Germany's minister of state for international cultural policy, Michelle Müntefering, released a statement on the issue, saying she welcomes the decision by the museum to return the stone cross of Cape Cross to Namibia.

"I expressly welcome the proposal by the museum to return the stone cross of Cape Cross to Namibia. The restitution of cultural objects is an important part of our efforts to build a common future with Namibia," stated Müntefering.

AFP quoted Guibeb as saying 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."

Education minister Katrina Hanse-Himarwa on Friday also confirmed the return of the stone cross, saying this was happening due to ongoing discussions on artefacts that should be returned to Namibia.

Cultural historian Andreas Vogt recorded in his authoritative 2004 work 'National Monuments in Namibia' that the stone cross, or padrão, at Cape Cross was erected by Portuguese seafarer Diogo Cão in 1484. The cross was removed by officers of the German navy in 1893, and taken to Germany in 1894.

The German colonial authorities erected a first replica of the original cross at Cape Cross in 1895, Vogt also wrote. In 1980, an additional cross, made from Namib dolerite, was put up at the same spot where Diogo Cão's padrão had stood.

Another stone cross that Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias erected at Lüderitz in 1488 was reported to be uprooted and broken in 1825. Fragments of that cross were later taken to a South African museum in 1855.


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