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Akwa Prince Mpondo


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19.10.2006

The Charges 























Notes: This Telegram shows how the Duala Kings (Akwa & Bell) sent embassadors to Germany to fight against the expropriation of their lands.
Das Telegram der Duala an Bethmann Hollweg mit der Bitte nach Deutschland reisen zu dürfen und wegen der in Duala geplanten Enteignungen zu verhandeln.

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Formally, this case was a simple one. Mpondo Akwa was charged with eight counts of fraud and with fraudulently using the title of nobility. By the time the trial began, on 27 June 1905, the prosecution had gathered seven plaintiffs in addition to Benno Rosenbaum whom Mpondo had also allegedly duped. Apart from the title of nobility, the state charged Mpondo with the following counts of fraud: [Altonaer Nachrichten, 27. Juni 1905, Abendblatt. In some cases, the Nachrichten spells the names of the plaintiffs differently than the copy of the judge´s Gründe in the BA-Berlin R1001 4300, p. 17. In cases of discrepancy, I have gone with the details as included in the Gründe.]

1) Carl Susemiehl, the owner of a private restaurant where Mpondo drank wine and sekt without paying for it (83.20 Marks);

2) Economist Heinrich Frese, who was told Mpondo´s father had already sent him 8000 Marks and who apparently loaned Mpondo money (1400 Marks);

3) Merchant Thomas Harms, who allowed Mpondo to stay in his house and loaned him money (146 Marks);

4) Pension owner Antoinette Gebhardt, who was told Mpondo was a prince, had property in Kamerun, and was awaiting money (600 Marks);

5) Shoemaker Ernst Imcker, who was shown a business card with a crown on it which read "Prince Akwa, Crown Prince of Bonabela" (23 Marks);

6) Wine seller Berthold Todtmann who was told that Mpondo expected money to arrive any day, and who believed Mpondo could help him set up a lucrative business with Cameroon in the future (25 Marks);

7) Benno Rosenbaum who was told that Mpondo was awaiting 1000 (120;70 Marks);

8) Pension owner Tycho Albrechtsen, with whom Mpondo lived from the 7th of September to his imprisonment in April 1905, and whom Mpondo allegedly told that he would soon be able to pick up 4000 Marks from his father and showed a letter in Duala to prove it (unspecified sum).

The prosecution had simply to prove that Mpondo Akwa intentionally defrauded the plaintiffs, that is, that he purchased merchandise and services in the knowledge that he could not pay for them. It argued that there could be no question that Mpondo was guilty of fraudulent intent in at least six cases, but disingenuously noted that it was willing to request a reduced penalty, for the following three reasons: Mpondo believed himself to be a prince, the inherited traits of blacks made them naturally lazy [arbeitsscheu], and blacks did not have the subtle power of discrimination between "mine" and "yours" that existed among Europeans. The prosecutor remarked that he considered all three to be mitigating circumstances, and recommended Mpondo be sentenced to two months imprisonment. [ Hamburger Fremdenblatt, 27. Juni 1905; General-Anzeiger für Hamburg-Altona, 28. Juni 1997. Levi states four months in the Plaidoyer, 2.]

MPUNDU AKWA: The Case of the Prince from Cameroon, the Newly Discovered Speech for the Defense by Dr.M. Levi
Von Joeden-Forgey, Elisa & Levi, Dr. M. (Eds.)
Notes, bib, vii, 137pp, GERMANY. LIT VERLAG, 3825873544

 

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