One impressive object in the newly-opened Humboldt Forum is the Mandu Yenu throne, a seat for the king of the African Bamum tribe which has been at the center of a recurring debate about looted art.
It's a colorful throne adorned in pearls; Mandu Yenu means "rich in pearls." The seat fit for a king comes from the Kingdom of Bamum in the highlands of today's Northwest Region of Cameroon in West Africa. Bamum's King Njoya gifted the throne, a sacred symbol in the country, to the German Emperor Wilhelm II in 1908 to strengthen the relationship with the German colonial rulers.
But how voluntary can a gift be under the conditions of colonial dependence? That's the question asked by those who suspect that massive political pressure was behind the "gift" at the time.
One thing is certain: The throne came to Berlin in the last century and can soon be viewed, embedded in explanations of the historical context, in the Humboldt Forum. King Njoya had a new similar throne made, which is still in the royal collection of Bamum today.
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