(Continued from last post, ‘Die Poppe Is Aan Dans’)

‘Die Poppe Is Aan Dans’, the first verse traces the materiality, duality, and mobility of dolls and other object/subjects, through voice and associated forms of memory, which transpose characters and spaces into a dystopian future. The ombopi’s phantasmic and reality projections invert play and ceremony, and in enduring returns, and re-cycles, unsettle an untenable idea of a universal heritage.

‘Die Poppe Is Aan Dans’, an Afrikaans idiom warns that there is trouble, ‘fat in the fire’. A present troubling threatens to upend museological and heritage praxis in the wake of demands for restitution, met with partial and occasional returns. It relays the incommensurability of symbolic returns with that which still remains: in material excess in museums, and of knowledge which shores up centuries of spoliation in the everyday.

The second verse, ‘!Namiǂnûs’ echoes the nightingale’s migratory messages carried on a wind-song, all along the south-western coast, linking southern Namibia, with Douala, Madeira, and Berlin. Its (the nightingale’s) itinerant body having greedily carried heavier consignments in each wave, buckles under its shortened wings, and cannot fly home.


Two Verses: Memory Biwa and Robert Machiri

Archives: Ernst Dammann Sound Collection, BAB; and other sources.

Special thanks: Julia Binter, Johanna Ndahekelekwa Nghishiko, Gabriel Rossell-Santillán.