the lion and the hunter

“Gnatola ma no kpon sia, eyenabe adelan to kpo mi sena”

“Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story”

The proverb above is in Ewe, a language mostly spoken in Ghana. It exists in different forms in many parts of Africa. Variations in other African languages are: “Until lions have their own historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter” (Igbo, Nigeria), and “Until lions start writing their own stories, the hunters will always be the heroes” (Kenya and Zimbabwe). Despite its different roots, its underlying meaning is the same: The content of a story and the way it is told, depends on the perspective and experiences of the storyteller.

All three of these proverbs illustrate how power and knowledge are related. We have placed the proverb within the context of global history in which so-called Western societies have gained knowledge of non-Western societies in order to exert power over them. This knowledge then served to legitimize histories of exploitation, racism, destruction and displacement. While anti-colonial struggles have been fought over centuries, this oppressive relation still endures and reproduces itself over and over again. The proverb calls upon us to intervene in the historical hunt we call (neo)colonialism. A vital part of this intervention is creating alternatives to histories which are dominated by the hunter’s perspectives and interests.

Originating from our joint seminars, this website is an attempt to answer this call. With all the projects presented here, we would like to emancipate the voices who have been silenced for too long. We want to move away from discriminatory and oppressive expressions of history, culture, economics, art, politics and so on. The Lion and the Hunter is a forum that creates a digital public space for everyone to debate, criticize and engage in.