German cultural body to return skulls to Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya

Almost 1,200 skulls taken from Germany’s East African colonies have been examined and are ready for repatriation to Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya, the head of a Berlin-based cultural foundation said on Friday.

“From a moral aspect, these skulls should never have been brought here,” Hermann Parzinger, the head of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, told dpa.

The skulls are part of the collections taken over by the foundation from the Charite, Berlin’s pre-eminent university hospital, in 2011.

The skulls were received in poor condition after being stored in damp conditions. They were then cleaned and catalogued in a pilot project with a view to repatriation.

“Of the almost 1,200 skulls investigated, around 900 are from Rwanda, 250 from Tanzania and more than 30 from Kenya, while we were unable to allocate a few,” Parzinger said.

“That means that around 98 per cent come from the former colony of German East Africa,” he added. Kenya was a British colony.

Discussions are under way with the ambassadors of the three countries on how to proceed further, Parzinger said, adding that it was not for the foundation to decide what happened to them after repatriation.

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