Past events
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“Most of the time, it is the power of men that we remember.” With these words, which open Léonora Miano’s text for Objects Talk Back, an astonishing new narrative unfurls around Mandu Yenu, a throne from the ancient Kingdom of Bamum (present day Cameroon).

The Germans long claimed the object was a ‘gift’ from King Njoya to Kaiser Wilhelm II. Miano reads “between the lines of beads and cowrie shells” to show the complex intricacies of colonial and gender relations. Dismissing all pretense of egalitarianism between colonizer and colonized, she hones in on the very nature of power – how and by whom it is defined-wielded-subverted. King

Njoya said he “felt like a woman in his relationship with the Germans”. Miano takes this as a prompt to examine contrasting cultural notions of femininity, and thus reveals how central women are to the story of the throne: the very name of the object suggests – it is the power of women we should remember.


Mandu Yenu can be visited in the room “Colonial Cameroon” (216) on the 2nd floor until 18:30. Admission is free.