The Dapper Foundation in Paris is stalling requests for dialogue with the Cameroonian claimants of a sacred sculpture that was acquired by a German colonial agent more than 100 years ago, according to a lawyer representing the Bangwa people of Cameroon.

The discussion over African heritage in French museums has gained new urgency after President Emmanuel Macron pledged “a temporary or definitive restitution of African heritage to Africa” over the next five years.

Known as the Bangwa Queen, the sculpture was either given to or looted by the German colonial agent Gustav Conrau, before Germany colonised the Bangwa grasslands region of what is today Cameroon and violently quelled insurrections. The sculpture was subsequently given to the Museum für Völkerkunde in Berlin. It later entered the art market and was purchased by the US collector Harry A. Franklin in 1966. His daughter sold it at auction in 1990, where it was bought by the Dapper Foundation.

Earl Sullivan, a lawyer based in The Hague who is representing the Bangwa king Fon Fontem Asabaton and chief Fuatabong Achaleke, says he has written three times to the foundation requesting information and dialogue about the Bangwa Queen sculpture. Read more