The Boat 

Poem and performance by Grada Kilomba



The Boat opens with a happening, where movement and a song of lamentation are performed. Several communities of the African diasporas, from different generations, are invited to become part of the ensemble, with whom a performance is staged. 

The communities become the voice, the body and the storyteller of a history that has been made memorised. 

The Boat becomes the ceremony and the physical presence of what has to be remembered.



O Barco/The Boat, Grada Kilomba, 2021

O Barco/The Boat, Grada Kilomba, 2021


O Barco / The Boat 


One boat one cargo hold 

One cargo hold one load 

One load one story 

One story one piece 

One piece one life 

One life one body 

One body one person 

One person one being 

One being one soul 

One soul one memory 

One memory one oblivion 

One oblivion one wound 

One wound one death 

One death one sorrow 

One sorrow one revolution 

One revolution one equality 

One equality one affection 

One affection Humanity 


Grada Kilomba, 2021

O Barco / The Boat 


Um barco um porão 

Um porão uma carga 

Uma carga uma história 

Uma história uma peça 

Uma peça uma vida 

Uma vida um corpo 

Um corpo uma pessoa 

Uma pessoa um ser 

Um ser uma alma 

Uma alma uma memória 

Uma memória um esquecimento 

Um esquecimento uma ferida 

Uma ferida uma morte 

Uma morte uma dor 

Uma dor uma revolução 

Uma revolução uma igualdade 

Uma igualdade um afeto 

Um afeto a humanidade 


Grada Kilomba, 2021

O Barco / The Boat / Ọkọ (2021) 


Ọkọ omi kan gbe ẹrù kan 

Ọkọ ẹrù kan di ẹrù kan mu 

ẹrù kan itan kan 

itan kan eya kan 

nkan kan ni igbesi aye 

aye kan ara kan 

ara kan eniyan kan 

eniyan kan lẹ ni kan 

eniyan kan ẹmi kan 

ẹmi kan iranti kan 

iranti kan ọkan igbagbe 

igbagbe kan egbo kan 

egbo kan iku kan 

iku kan ibanuje kan 

ibanuje kan iyika kan 

iyika kan idogba kan 

idogba ife ọkan 

ọkan ife ẹda eniyan 


Grada Kilomba, 2021 

Translated to Yoruba by Adetoun Küppers-Adebisi.

O Barco / The Boat / O Barku 


Un barku un puron 

Un puron un karga 

Un karga un stória 

Un stória un pesa 

Un pesa un vida 

Un vida un korpu 

Un korpu un pesoa 

Un pesoa un ser 

Un ser un Alma 

Un Alma un memória 

Un memória un skecimentu 

Un skecimentu un frida 

Un frida un morti 

Un morti un dor 

Un dor un revoluson 

Un revoluson un igualdadi 

Un igualdadi un afetu 

Un afetu nôs humanidadi 


Grada Kilomba, 2021 

Translated to Kriolo from Cape Verde by Dino D’Santiago. 

يا باركو | القارب غرادا كيلومبا (إنجلترا 


مركب واحد للبضائع 

حمولة واحدة تحمل حمولة واحدة 

حمولة واحدة قصة واحدة 

.قصة واحدة قطعة واحدة 

قطعة واحدة في الحياة 

.حياة واحدة جسد واحد 

.جسد واحد شخص واحد 

شخص واحد كائن واحد 

كائن واحد روح واحدة 

.روح واحدة ذاكرة واحدة 

ذكرى واحدة نسيان واحد 

.نسيان واحد جرح واحد 

.جرح واحد موت واحد 

موت واحد حزن واحد 

.حزن واحد ثورة واحدة 

.ثورة واحدة مساواة واحدة 

مساواة واحدة عاطفة واحدة 

عاطفة واحدة هي الإنسانية 


Grada Kilomba, 2021 

Translated to Arabic by Alhasan Mohamad. 

O Barco / The Boat / Ó Ulungu 


Ulungu umoxi Kixima kimoxi 

Kixima kimoxi dibunda dimoxi 

Dibunda dimoxi musoso umoxi 

Musoso umoxi kima kimoxi 

Kima kimoxi mwenhu umoxi 

Mwenhu umoxi Muthu umoxi 

Muthu umoxi dyala dimoxi 

Dyala dimoxi kukala kumoxi 

Kukala kumoxi nzumbi umoxi 

Nzumbi umoxi kaximonya kamoxi 

Kaximonya kamoxi kujima kumoxi 

Kujima kumoxi Udikwama umoxi 

Udikwama umoxi kalunga kamoxi 

Kalunga kamoxi Udikwama umoxi 

Udikwama umoxi nvunda umoxi 

Nvunda umoxi kyene kimoxi kimoxi 

Kyene kimoxi Kazola kamoxi 

Kazola kamoxi ni athu


Grada Kilomba, 2021 

Translated to Kimbundu by Kavulanduge Kimbari.

O Barco / The Boat / Sekepe 


Sekepe se le sengwe ke polokelo ya morwalo e le nngwe 

Polokelo ya morwalo e le nngwe ke thoto e le nngwe 

Thoto e le nngwe ke kgang e le nngwe 

Kgang e le nngwe ke karolo e le nngwe 

Karolo e le nngwe ke bophelo bo le bongwe 

Bophelo bo le bongwe ke mmele o le mongwe 

Mmele o le mongwe ke motho a le mongwe 

Motho a le mongwe ke sebopiwa se le sengwe 

Sebopiwa se le sengwe ke moya o le mongwe 

Moya o le mongwe ke kgakologelo e le nngwe 

Kgakologelo e le nngwe ke tebalego e le nngwe 

Tebalego e le nngwe ke ntho e le nngwe 

Ntho e le nngwe ke loso lo le lengwe 

Loso lo le lengwe ke kutlhobotlhoko e le nngwe 

Kutlobotlhoko e le nngwe ke tsogelo-kgatlhanong e le nngwe 

Tsogelo-kgatlhanong e le nngwe ke tekatekano e le nngwe 

Tekatekano e le nngwe ke lerato lo le lengwe 

Lerato lo le lengwe ke botho bo le bongwe 


Grada Kilomba, 2021 

Translated to Setswana by Joan Legalamitlwa. 

O Barco/The Boat, Grada Kilomba, 2021

O Barco/The Boat, Grada Kilomba, 2021

O Barco/The Boat, Grada Kilomba, 2021

O Barco/The Boat, Grada Kilomba, 2021

O Barco/The Boat, Grada Kilomba, 2021

O Barco/The Boat, Grada Kilomba, 2021

O Barco/The Boat, Grada Kilomba, 2021

Views of the performance “O Barco / The Boat” (2021) by Grada Kilomba (maat, 03/09/2021, 18.00–19.00). Photos: By Agency, courtesy of the artist and EDP Foundation / maat.


Grada Kilomba is a Portuguese artist based in Berlin, whose work draws on memory, trauma, violence, and the post-colonial condition. Best known for her subversive writing and poetic imagery, Kilomba published Plantation Memories: Episodes of Everyday Racism in 2008. Reprinted in multiple editions and translated to different languages, the book examines, via a psychoanalytic lens, the methods used to dehumanise and oppress Black people throughout history. 

In her multimedia installations, Kilomba creates a critical and immersive space of storytelling, to explore what she calls the “colonial wound”, using performance, choreography, staged reading, theatre, video, photography and installation. Her work has been presented in major international venues such as Lubumbashi Biennale (2019), Berlin Biennale (2018); Documenta (Kassel, 2017), São Paulo Biennale (2016), among many other. Heroines, Birds and Monsters is her first solo exhibition in the United States, at the Amant Foundation, Brooklyn.


O Barco / The Boat is Grada Kilomba’s first large-scale installation. Stretching 32 meters along the Tagus river, it invites the audience to enter a garden of memory in which a poem, translated into various languages – from Yoruba and Kimbundu to Creole and Setswana, as well as Portuguese, English and Arabic – rests on burnt wooden blocks, recalling forgotten stories and identities. In the Western imaginary, a ship is easily associated with glory, freedom, and maritime expansion, described as “discoveries” but Kilomba’s boat carefully draws the space created to accommodate the bodies of millions of Africans, enslaved by European empires. A performance in three acts, in which several generations of Afro-descendant communities are the central interpreters, turns the O Barco / The Boat into a place of acknowledgement, a garden of memory, but also a viewpoint to the future.


This project is commissioned and co-produced by BoCA, maat and Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, in partnership with Câmara Municipal de Lisboa/EGEAC within the programme Lisboa na Rua'21. The production support is by ArtWorks.