The Stolen Moments, Namibian Music History – Untold

lecture of Aino Moongo, June 4, 2 – 2:30 pm

The Stolen Moments project was established in 2010 by Baby Doeseb, Thorsten Schuette and Aino Moongo in Windhoek, Namibia. The project researched Namibia’s Popular Music History from 1950s to late 1980s as it discovered that very little was known about the popular music in the country during the years of apartheid. It started with the finding of one unique song which raised questions but not much information was available despite the fact that it originated from a music library of the public broadcaster. Through a public survey, regularly launched over six months period supported by local newspapers and a massive response from the general public, it became apparent that those who could unlock the mysteries of the past were still alive making it vital to capture their stories, before this part of the past would disappear altogether. The magnitude of complex and multiply disparate information acquired, marked the onset of a research still active today. Digging deeper into the materials in combination with the finding of thousands of unpublished songs prompted the question of why and how a massive cultural heritage of the recent past cold fall into oblivion. Initially the Stolen Moments team focused on just the music that was widely unknown and unheard. The process prompted the realization that the research had to be broader in order to include oral history; visual depiction of physical spaces; documentation of the physical body movements and the use of archived materials such as photography, newspaper clippings and of course the music.

In order to make most of the above-mentioned analog of the findings accessible, a digital transfer had to be arranged. Several parallel projects took form, for example such as the music digitalization project at the public broadcaster including equipment and training. The Times Reframed project involving the digitizing newspaper articles relevant to expose trivial, social and political debates of the time. The Dance Me This project documenting dance.

An academic framing, sorting and definition would beat the spirit and vividness out of the materials, if “chronologised” or (impossibly) fully explained, it would lose its agility and fluidity, its reluctance and contradictions. After all, our research is a broad work in progress, and the findings are incomplete and information limited. The visitor should experience the visible breaks, gaps, lack of knowledge and all the unanswered questions whilst incongruently learning anew. In this way the exhibition lure the visitor into the material with juxtaposed surprises and irritation and dare them to travel through the memories of Namibia’s past.


Aino Moongo is a Namibian Master’s student currently studying Culture and Society in Africa, Art and Curatorship at the Bayreuth University. She is one of three founding members of the Stolen Moments Research Group. Aino is currently employed as a student assistant at the Iwalewahaus, an academic arts institution of the University of Bayreuth where she co-curated the exhibition of her project Stolen Moments, Namibian Music History –Untold launched in the house in 2016. Aino travelled with the same exhibition to Basel in 2017, to Berlin in 2018 and will soon accompany it to London in July 2019. In addition, she worked as a student assistant curator for the Future Africa – Visions in Time exhibition (FAVT), Windhoek Namibia in 2018 -a project of the Iwalewahaus, Bayreuth Academy of Advanced African Studies partnered with the Goethe Institute. In the same year, Aino as a student assistant also conducted research on the Creative Industry of Namibia for the Institute of African Studies (IAS) of the Bayreuth University. She also worked as a project assistant at the 2017 exhibition Spaces – Perception. Reflection. In-ter-vention, at the Iwalewahaus. Aino gained her bachelor’s degree in Communication in Namibia through part-time studies at Polytechnic, today known as the Namibia University of Science and Technology. In her free time and in between fulltime employment and part-time studies, Aino also worked as a film production assistant. As a communications officer for the Wild Cinema International Film Festival. And as a Front of House Manager for the Warehouse Theatre in Windhoek; and as a Jury assistant at the Namibian Film and Theatre Awards and later as a Jury member at the same award.