Tue. Jun 11th, 2024

In the heart of Berlin, a significant effort is underway to reclaim Togo’s cultural heritage. Togolese researcher Dr. Toffa Ohiniko Mawussé has embarked on a mission to identify and document cultural artifacts from Togo that are housed in Berlin. Since beginning his work six months ago, Dr. Mawussé has cataloged between 1,500 and 2,000 significant artifacts from the former German colony.

Dr. Toffa Ohiniko Mawussé on the Importance of Cultural Artifacts
“I arrived in Berlin six months ago. Though I am still early in my career, I have already identified more than 1,500 objects from Togo,” Dr. Mawussé states. “These artifacts are more than mere objects—they are histories, cultures, and lives. They represent the knowledge and traditions that continue to thrive today.”

Among the cataloged items are talking drums from the Ewe culture in southern Togo and traditional necklaces from the Kabiyè people in the north. These treasures were taken to Germany during the colonial period from 1884 to 1918.

The Significance of the Talking Drum
“Here we have a talking drum, known as the Atumpani,” Dr. Mawussé explains. “This drum was used by our ancestors to send messages across communities.”

The Path to Reclaiming Cultural Heritage

While these artifacts remain in Germany, Togo is making strides in its efforts to reclaim them. Each identified piece brings Togo closer to reclaiming its cultural heritage.

Engaging Academic Communities in Togo

In Lomé, the discussion about these cultural artifacts has gained momentum in academic circles. Kokou Azamédé, a teacher-researcher at the University of Lomé, emphasizes the importance of awareness in the restitution process: “Restitution begins with knowing what must be returned. Those to whom the artifacts should be returned have the right to be informed about the process. Communities can only make claims when they know these objects exist elsewhere. We are currently in the process of informing the communities, and once they are informed, their decisions will be made known.”

A Hopeful Future

The journey towards restitution is long, but the ongoing research and dialogues are promising. There is hope that one day these cultural treasures will return to their rightful place in Togo, restoring a vital part of the nation’s heritage.

By Joy

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