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“THE FUTURE OF RETURNS. Can works of fiction precipitate restitution?”
by SHIFT collective

What does the future look like when approached from the point of view of restituted objects? 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 last few years have seen seismic shifts in discussions surrounding 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 not only political. Perhaps it is due to a lack of imagination. Maybe, if we start to disseminate stories about what will happen when objects come home, we can actually precipitate their return. 

The event marks the launch of an anthology of short stories by Kenyan writers imagining the return of cultural objects back to Kenya, a new project by SHIFT collective in conjunction with Down River Road, one of the journals that are currently contributing to the vividness of the literary scene in Nairobi and beyond. 


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 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.

Online Event (via Zoom) - please register here:

Down River Road is an online and print journal that publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and ideas. In their own words: “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.

As part of the exhibition “Invisible Inventories: Questioning Kenyan Collections in Western Museums”