Stories To Tell | Joel Mpah Dooh : Cape Town

15 November 2020 - 26 March 2021

‘Stories to Tell’ is Gallery MOMO’s first show to kick start the summer season and opens at Gallery MOMO Cape Town on 15 November 2020.  The gallery will be open to visitors observing all Covid-19 protocols.

When I landed in Johannesburg on the 17th of March I was not aware of the seriousness of the situation. But everyone is already preparing for a very imminent lockdown which will take place a few days later.


I write these on my Facebook page: "In a few hours, starting at midnight to be precise, South Africa will enter total confinement. For a few days now the waiting lines in front of the shops have been getting longer. Now the silence is gradually getting quieter, planes and helicopters are certainly crossing the sky to take the measure of this unprecedented situation! The world is sick . I am commuting between my room and the workspace that has been reserved for me to try to organise myself for my retirement for the next 21 days. My connection to the world will be my phone. I have the body here and there with my head in the country . The world is out of order and is dragging us down with it. Be careful!"


This is what my daily life will be like during these first 21 days of confinement... I spend my days watching the security cars go by... Then the passers-by go to stock up on basic necessities. Tim a friend I see through the gate suggests a title "Stories to tell".


At the same time I learn of the death of my brother in Paris as a result of Covid and other friends and I see my incapacity and fragility. Then I write again "I was supposed to be back in Douala tonight according to the residency programme, but unfortunately no flight. No one even answers the airline that brought me here. The Cameroonian High Commission in South Africa that I approached asked me to fill in a form, do the Covid test and wait ... Tonight begins an adventure, that of an individual with no landmarks!!!!"


It will happily end one month later with the chartering of a special flight to Douala. And I conclude in the following way: "A special flight will take us back to Cameroon this Sunday. All passengers will meet in Pretoria on Saturday where they will be taken care of by the Cameroon High Commission in South Africa. They will then be transferred by bus early in the morning on Sunday to O.R.Tambo International (Johannesburg airport) for boarding on an Ethiopian flight to Yaounde via Nairobi and Addis Ababa. Some of our compatriots will join us during these different stopovers.


More than 4 months after my arrival in South Africa, it is with some relief that I will be returning to the country. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Cameroonian authorities for this wonderful initiative. To all those who, throughout this unusual stay, have given me their support and in particular to the team of the Gallery Momo for their attention, my sincere gratitude. To my family and to all my friends from here and elsewhere, I love you!!! I'm happy to be back home, to the point of forgetting that it's raining bcp at the moment in Douala and that the road to Bonendale (but not only) is in very bad shape !!! See you soon.