Statement regarding the rejection of visas for Cameroonian scientists

The refusal of visas for Cameroonian scientists and the reasons given by the German Embassy in Cameroon are incomprehensible and unacceptable!

Issued by the German Association for Ethnologists/Bundesverband für Ethnolog*innen e.V. (bfe)

The English version of this statement was prepared by AG Public Anthropology with permission from bfe

See the original statement in German here

The German Embassy in Cameroon has rejected the Schengen visa applications of three Cameroonian scientists and prevented their entry to Germany. The three are part of a research project of the Museum Fünf Kontinente in Munich, which is investigating the provenance of its Cameroonian collections during the violent German colonial period. The project, which began in 2019, is funded by the German Lost Art Foundation and the Free State of Bavaria. The three colleagues were scheduled to attend the closing event in Munich on Friday, January 21, 2022. 

As the reason for the visa rejection, the embassy mentions a missing birth certificate and expresses doubts about the intention (of at least one scientist) to return to Cameroon. Why the birth certificate cannot be submitted later and these scientists (some of whom have already traveled back to Cameroon from Germany before) are not trusted, is incomprehensible and at the same time unacceptable for us.

Such restrictive and non-transparent visa-politics add fresh wounds to the existing injuries from the colonial past and prevent the reappraisal and desired reconciliation between the (two) nation-states in general, and the scientists and civil societies of both countries in specific.

We expect a statement from the responsible authorities and a quick clarification of the (visa) procedures. 

Carsten Stark
On behalf of the board of the German Association for Ethnologists/Bundesverband für Ethnolog*innen e.V. (bfe)


We also express solidarity with the statements of our colleagues:

Art History as Cultural History (Kunstgeschichte als Kulturgeschichte), TU Berlin

Association for African Studies in Germany (Vereinigung für Afrikawissenschaften in Deutschland, VAD)

Media reports: 

Deutschland und sein koloniales Erbe. Rassismusvorwurf: Keine Visa für Experten aus Kamerun (Deutsche Welle)

Weiterschreibung Provenienzforschung am Museum Fünf Kontinente (Deutschlandfunk Kultur)

Kein Visum für Forschungsteam aus Kamerun. Eine postkoloniale Ohrfeige (Deutschlandfunk Kultur) 

Raubkunst-Projekt. Kein Visum für Forscher:innen aus Kamerun (Bayerischer Rundfunk)