Episode 17: Restitution of African Cultural Objects – The example of “Akpini Royal Regalia”

In the newest episode of our podcast „Wissen Entgrenzen“, Susann Baller, formerly affiliated with the German Historical Institute in Paris, and Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa Dzidzienyo, an archaeologist at the University of Ghana, talk about the restitution of African cultural objects.

They especially focus on the example of the „Akpini Royal Regalia“, which were taken from the Volta region in Ghana and brought to Germany in the early 20th century. These objects were also the main focus of a research project on restitution, conducted at the Merian Institute of Advanced Studies (MIASA), which is part of the University of Ghana.

Where do the objects come from? Who took them and brought them to Germany? Since when are the objects in Germany and where are they today? How did the Apkini people find out about the current location of their objects? Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa Dzidzienyo and Susann Baller talk about all these questions. Furthermore, you learn about the importance of the objects for the Akpini people and by that you gain insights into why they claim the restitution of the “Akpini royal regalia”.

“We also have to take the German colonial past very serious in our memory practice and our discussion about the past.”

Decolonisation, restitution and the African perspective on this debate are important topics in the episode. Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa Dzidzienyo stresses how important it is that research is conducted at African universities. For her, decolonisation and restitution are intertwined and play an important role in finding a post-colonial identity, creating an own telling of the history and getting into an equal dialogue with the former colonial powers, also in the academic context.

“In simple terms, I would say that restitution is a very complex process, and it is a process that involves restoration, a process that involves returning of heritage, that has been lost or stolen, or illegally taken away from a group of people and returning it back to its proper place and its proper units.”

What is the current state of the restitution claim on the “Akpini royal regalia”? Who is responsible for the restitution and who receives the objects in the end? We discuss these questions in our new episode.

You can find the script here!

Host und Autorenschaft:

Janine Funke: https://www.janinefunke.de/


Dr. Susann Baller: https://cmb.hu-berlin.de/en/team/profil/susann-baller and https://www.dhi-paris.fr/institut/team/wissenschaft/alumni/susann-baller.html

Dr. Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa-Dzidzienyo: https://www.ug.edu.gh/archaeology/staff/gertrude-aba-mansah-eyifa-dzidzienyo


Lena Rüßing und Johanna Beamish (Max Weber Stiftung)


Felix Giese


Traditional Borborbor Musik, bereitgestellt von Kodzo Gavua (Universität Ghana)




Togbui Opeku VI:

“Woʄe teʄe sia vava gana dzideʄo mí be míaʄe kesinↄnuwo mebu o. Nya siwo katã míegblↄ la, onetsↄe de dↄwↄwↄ me eye woalée ɖe agbalẽ dzi be le γleti wuievea mea, ne wogatrↄ va la, agbalẽ siwo míawↄ la nade mía dzi.“

Overvoice: Wazi Apoh

“Their coming has given us hope that our treasures are not lost. They should put all that we have said into practice and record it in a book so that when they return in December, the book that they will write would help us.“

In: “Epistemologies of Restitution” produziert von Martin Doll, verfügbar auf “Thinking About Restitution”.

Annalena Baerbock, 1. Juli 2022

“This is a story of European colonialism. We should not forget that Germany played an active role in this chapter of history. Today, more than 120 years later, we state clearly: The Head of a King belongs to the people of Nigeria.”

In: https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/newsroom/news/baerbock-benin-bronzes-nigeria/2540458

Weiterführende Ressourcen:

Wazi Apoh, “Revelations of Domination and Resilience: Unearthing the Buried Past of the Akpini, Akan, Germans, and British at Kpando, Ghana”, Sub-Saharan Publishers, Ghana, 2019.

Wazi, Apoh, “Sankofatizaion and Decolonization: The Rapprochement of German Museums and Government with Colonial Objects and Postcolonialism”, Museum Anthropology, vol. 43, no. 1, pp. 29-44, DOI: 10.1111/muan.12218.

Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa-Dzidzienyo, Stefanie Michels, Kokou Azamede, Martin Doll, Jakob Zollmann, “Restitution, Return, Repatriation and Reparation (the 4Rs) in Africa: Reality or Transcultural Ahasia?”, MIASA Working Paper No. 2023(2), Edited by the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa, Section Editor: Susann Baller, available in open access: https://www.ug.edu.gh/mias-africa/sites/mias-africa/files/images/MIASA_WP_2023%282%29_IFG5.pdf

Dokumentarfilm „Epistemologies of Restitution“ von Martin Doll: http://www.thinking-about-restitution.info/

Podcast des DHI London: https://www.ghil.ac.uk/publications/podcast


Wikimedia Commons “Photo of the Benin Bronzes display at the British Museum”: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Benin_bronzes_british_museum_2023.JPG

The research presented in this podcast by Dr. Gertrude Aba Mansah Eyifa-Dzidzienyo and Dr. Susann Baller received support from the Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa (MIASA), sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany, and the University of Ghana, Legon-Accra, as co-funder.

Diesen Blogbeitrag zitieren
Max Weber Stiftung (2024, 26. Februar). Episode 17: Restitution of African Cultural Objects – The example of “Akpini Royal Regalia” [gab_log] Geisteswissenschaft als Beruf. Abgerufen am 23. Mai 2024, von https://doi.org/10.58079/vwm8

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