Experiencing Colonialism through Visiting Collections
Moko, Laibor Kalanga – 2022
Most of what I know about colonialism and colonial injustice in Tanzania I have learned at school. In the history classes at secondary school, we were taught about the brutal establishment and expansion of first German, later British domination which involved plundering, looting, and the killing of those who resisted colonialism. Although I had learned all this, I admit that I probably never felt the brutality of colonialism more deeply than on October 14th, 2020 when I first visited the Tanzania collections in the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin. Throughout this visit, I experienced colonialism and its aggression viscerally. Prior to my visit to the museum´s storage, I had encountered the collections by looking at digital photographs. Although the images affected me emotionally in terms of the possible brutality that was involved in the acquisition of the objects, it was still hard for me to fathom that the real objects were in the museum. There was always the thought in my mind that the photographs might have been taken in a different context, for instance by asking the owners to have their objects photographed.