Collecting as appropriation and construction of the world, as a form of asserting hegemony as well as the self-presentation of imperial Germany is discussed in the context of the Africa Exhibition Showcase, as is the question of interpretive sovereignty and the power of disposal over the collections.
The exhibits not only show how people in Africa lived, they also reflect the world views of those who collected and acquired them. The presentation is therefore complemented by media with information on the individual objects, the collectors of the acquisition history and the collection contexts.
Mangaaka figures came about in the dispute with the advance of Western-dominated capitalism and the colonialism on the West African coast of the former Kingdom of Kongo. This sculpture, one of only 17 Mangaaka figures in the world, was presumably made in the second half of the 19th century. The enormous porcelain eyes, the size of the palm of a hand, are directed straight at the observer, and there is a hole where the navel should be. Originally, it was the storage space for a wide variety of potent substances, which were supposed to give the figure strength so that it could protect the community from enemy attacks. The iron nails and blades in the body served to seal an oath or a contract and other legal purposes. By hammering a new piece of metal into the figure, the Mangaaka’s fearsome power was activated. Anyone who spoke untruths or failed to uphold a contract, surrendered himself to the persecution of this power.