We approach the research question of the lions iteratively, developing forms which we build upon and also deconstruct within a community of affiliated collaborators. For example, our first work was a sound installation made of vox populi from passers-by in Nairobi. And we build upon these statements to develop our 4 part podcast. The key interviewees which we met in the production of the podcast are then invited to develop a new “script” for the lions, which we write together in the context of a workshop held in Nairobi in 2023.
And finally in Dakar, the podcast becomes the base material for a radio show, which mediates, but also interrogates anew the podcast. This approach is an attempt, and an aspiration, to research in response to, and in dialogue with, the contexts and people with whom are working.
*meaning 2 lions in Kiswahili
AS PART OF: RECONNECTING OBJECTS TOGETHER WITH: MARIAN NUR GONI MEDIUM: RESEARCH PROJECT FUNDED BY: VOLKSWAGEN STIFTUNG, FILMSTIFTUNG NRW, YEAR: 2019 - ONGOING
with Marian Nur Goni
Simba Mbili: Potential Histories of the Maneaters of Tsavo is a research project which explores the powerful imaginaries of the lions of Tsavo, the man-eaters who brought the construction of the Kenya-Uganda railway to a halt in 1898. That two lions could interfere in this key British imperial infrastructure project provoked international debate. Since 1925, the taxidermied lions have been housed at the Field Museum in Chicago where, despite hopes to have them returned to Kenya, they remain until today.
Over decades, this story has been narrated, in popular books and films, as part of a heroic white man narrative. But how is it remembered and told in Kenya today? For whom is it significant and for what do the lions stand? Indeed, what would the lions trigger if they were brought back to Kenya? The podcast combines “vox populi”, interviews with scholars, artists and interested parties to understand the contemporary and multifaceted relevance of this tired imperial-era history.