Along the traces of the Bertram-Collection

The projectpartner of LindenLAB 6 after getting to know the Bertram-Collection in October 2021, together planned a research trip into the Southeast of Kamerun, the region of provenance as Bertram indicated in his letters. The aim should be to get information about the objects of the Bertram-Collection and their significance.

In December 2021 Prof. Germain Loumpet, Tah Kennete Konsum und Stone Karim Mohamad embarked on their research trip. They encounterd ruins of German military bases of the colonial time and noticed that the places Bertram described aren’t existing anymore. The population has since moved to other areas of the region, villages declined or nowadays are called differently.

At various places the three project partner realized focus group interviews and personal interviews with the population as well as authorities and thereby used fotos of the objects which the Linden-Museum provided. Thus it was tried to acquire knowledge about the time of the German colonization as well as its impact on the present, about authorities during the time of the formation of the Bertram-Collection, about producers and possible owners of the objects as well as about the significance of the objects in the past and present. Also, in this way it should be found out if the objects are known nowadays, how they are called and used.

It turned out that several objects, their name and usage are known of the population and similar objects are still used today and – sometimes in other ways – are still produced. The objects were deeply admired by the Cameroonian population because of the demanding craftmanship.

Information about the genesis or legal owners couldn’t be obtained in the course of this research trip. A contemporary witness described the German colonial occupation as brutal and reported that objects and possessions were especially grabbed when communities for their own safety fleed into woodlands.

All project partners called for pursuing investigation on the collection to acquire more information about their production, history and significance. Some selected objects currently can be contemplated in the exhibition “Trails from the Storage. Searching Histories Future”. A film about the research trip is also part of the presentation.

A brief article about the different perspectives which were brought into the research trip by the project partners can be found here.