Can works of fiction precipitate restitution?



Can works of fiction precipitate restitution?

by SHIFT collective (FR/GER) and Down River Road (KE)

Saturday, January 29th, 2022 | 5 pm EAT / 3 pm CET | online event | please register here

The last few years have seen seismic shifts in the thinking around the restitution of objects held in institutions of the North to African countries. Yet, few objects have actually physically moved. We ask ourselves if this inertia is due to more than just politics and economics. Perhaps it is due to a lack of imagination. How can stories about the fate and ghosts of return help us imagine a future of restitution? Reparation? Home?

How does the future look from a point of restitution? What do the objects find when returning home? What communities gather around them? What histories, narratives and new sociabilities do they trigger and provoke?

The event marks the launch of a new collaborative project by the SHIFT collective and Down River Road, one of the journals currently contributing to the vividness of the literary scene in Nairobi and beyond: an anthology of short stories by Kenyan writers imagining the return of cultural objects back to Kenya. The event will be centered around the reading of the first short story in the anthology, followed by a discussion on a future of restitution and the place of fiction in imagining alternative futures.


Alexis Teyie is a Kenyan writer and publisher. Currently Managing Editor, Down River Road.They are a co-founder of Enkare Review (c.2016), and Nairobi-based imprint, Magic Door (c.2020). Books include:  Short Cut  (2015), and  Clay Plates: Broken Records of Kiswahili Proverbs  (2016).

Felix Omondi is a poet, writer, community journalist and a podcaster. A recipient of the 2020 NF2W9 poetry scholarship with poems published in the third issue of down river road magazine. He also translates work into sheng.

Greenman Muleh Mbillo is an Akamba philosopher, artist and traditional healer according to the ancient practice of ‘Kamuti’ or ‘of the tree’. Greenman inherited this practice from birth and was later trained by Kanukwa, a female Akamba philosopher, who delivered him to be educated by Spirit. He is also a partaker of contemporary Western education through both established institutions and private education arrangement. Greenman’s main interests are directed to the archeology 1. of ancient knowledge systems and especially that of the Akamba people, and more broadly, of the Khemetic people who established the African continent.

Ray Mwihaki. Ray is often considered weird but she’d like to assure the general public that it really depends on the hour. She is a writer, reader, artist, mother… living in Nairobi. Her work has been published by Down River Road, World’s Loudest Library, Creative’s Garage, Omenana, The Poetry Project, Arizona State University and UNICEF.

Michelle K. Angwenyi is a writer from Nairobi, Kenya. She was shortlisted for the 2018 Brunel Africa International Poetry Prize, and for the 2017 Short Story Day Africa Prize. She has a chapbook, Grey Latitudes, forthcoming from Akashic Books and the African Poetry Book Fund (APBF) in 2020.

Down River Road is an online and print journal that publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and ideas. “We are interested in the margins, in the shifting centres and the new spaces that exist in what we’ve come to call the alternative. We are curious about how we can all imagine and create this world, build this world, shape this small corner of the Internet into a place we can claim.”

SHIFT (Sam Hopkins, Marian Nur Goni, Simon Rittmeier) is a transnational collective working on the intersection of art and research, particularly on issues related to African objects diaspora in the aftermath of colonialism and imperialism.

The event is part of the “Invisible Inventories” exhibition at the Weltkulturenmuseum Frankfurt / Germany