There’s a new Arts & Crafts Centre in the holiday town of Swakopmund and it’s 100% Namibian. On the surface, it is a fantastic venue for locals and tourists to soak up Namibian art and enjoy something to eat and drink at the new Yambeke restaurant. But at its heart lies a grander ambition: the training and uplifting of local artists. Namibian people have a vibrant, diversified culture, which this Centre wants to promote and develop.
The Centre provides a fantastic venue for open-air events – keep an eye out for the latest happenings on the COSDEF Arts & Crafts Facebook page.
The Centre is a project of COSDEF (Namibia Community Skills Development Foundation); a non-profit organization that provides disadvantaged communities, unemployed youth, and vulnerable people the opportunity to learn skills to earn an income. The Swakopmund Centre helps the community to develop the skills needed to be self-sustainable by providing an outlet for products and artisans as well as training and mentorship programs (these programs include business and design skills).
The Centre offers a host of different artistic courses ranging from an Introduction to Fine Arts, to Jewellery and Fashion design. The Centre has its very own craft shop and Gallery that show cases 100% Namibian craft sourced from all over the country.
It also provides a space for small retail shops where local business men and women have the opportunity to both produce and sell their goods - jewellery, knitting, t-shirt printing, textiles, photography, art work and local food. You’ll also find some well-known local artisans at the Centre - Karakulia Weavers, Desert Hills’ Nara products and Kubatsirana Helping Hands.
The Arts & Crafts Centre also has a beautiful Amphitheatre and stage, a conference hall and an art gallery which you can rent for events.
The new Yambeke Restaurant inside the Centre provides the perfect spot for lunch with local flavour. They also serve daily specials that can be pre-ordered to take home for dinner.
Soak up the creative atmosphere as you munch some brunch at the Yambeke Restaurant.
Some events to watch out for:
African Dance & Drumming classes; two classes during the week during business hours and certain Saturdays (from 3 March 2015)
Easter market with egg hunting for the kids and a performance by a local African group (4 April 2015)
Monthly themed film showcases (dates TBA)
Art exhibitions (dates TBA)
Saturday Kiddies activities (dates TBA)
Follow COSDEF Arts & Crafts Facebook page to stay up to date with the latest events and dates.
Shops & Yambeke Restaurant: Weekdays 9am – 5pm & Saturdays 9 – 4pm.
Look out for the brightly coloured Centre on the Swakopmund Airport Road.
The Centre’s many different stalls showcasing Namibian art and providing budding artists with a platform for success.
Locals are trained in many artistic forms to improve their skills and livelihoods.
Take a browse through the art gallery to discover truly Namibian talent.
Pick up some 100% Namibian crafts and support the local community!
All images courtesy of COSDEF.
MCA-Namibia (Millennium Challenge Account) helped to develop and fund the Centre’s building and equipment. MCA strives for economic improvement through infrastructure development, capacity building and vocational training to provide greater opportunity for economic growth and livelihood improvement.
Open Africa is an organisation that prides itself on promoting sustainable tourism ventures in countries like Namibia. Recently at last week’s Namibian Tourism Expo, Open Africa, in conjunction with the Namibian Tourism Board and the Millennium Challenge Account Namibia, launched three new self-drive routes through Namibia.
Each self-drive route has been carefully planned out to highlight aspects of Namibia that are a little bit less well known to both local and international tourists. This blog post will provide you with an overview of all the experiences you can have on each route (for a detailed itinerary visit our page here or click any of the names of the experiences below).
The Omulunga Palm Route
What you can expect on the Omulunga Palm Route
There are several notable cultural experiences to be had on this tour as many of the local tribes along of this route have a proud history. The Owambo homesteads along the way are reminders of Namibia’s hard-fought liberation struggles as well as its promising future.
Many of the local communities along the route manage conservancies that aim to provide locals with the opportunity to share their traditions, culture and wildlife with visitors.
An Owambo homestead.
Regions the Omulunga Palm Route will take you through
The route takes you on a journey from the arid northwest of the country to the fertile and verdant northeast. It should also be noted that this route also takes travellers down to the world famous Etosha National Park.
Visitors getting close to some game at Etosha.
Experiences on the Omulunga Palm Route
The Roof of Namibia experience is 467km long and roughly runs parallel to the Angolan border in Namibia’s north. The journey traces the Kunene River from the Ruacana Falls across to the Okavango River. The trip takes travellers past several pans and flooded channels. These watery ecosystems are home to a massive amount of birdlife on offer.
The Ruacana Falls.
(Image by Tom Jakobi via Wikicommons)
This part of the Omulunga Palm Route is not just about rural wildlife as there are several urban settlements along the way with attractions such as the Outapi War Museum, Ombalantu Baobab Museum and the Eenhana Shrine.
The mighty Ombalantu Baobab.
(Image via Wikimedia)
This experience is a 641km trail through the culturally rich and unique towns of Oshakati, Ongwediva and Ondangwa. There are also several rural villages that surround these larger towns, so be sure to be on the look out for those!
The major attractions on the King Nehale Experience are the Omugulugwombashe National Monument, Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead, Uukwambi Kings Monument, Oshakati Open Market, Ongula Traditional Homestead, Nakambale Museum and Lake Oponono. This part of the route also takes you through Etosha National Park. Exploring this world-class National Park is a must-do activity when visiting the Land of the Brave.
A Blue Crane at Lake Oponono.
(Image by Alastair Rae via Wikimedia)
The Arid Eden Route
What you can expect on the Arid Eden Route
This route is a dream come true for travel photographers. As you head away from Swakopmund the arid desert landscapes and the crystal clear skies offer up some of the best photography opportunities in Namibia.
There are several unique locations along this route ranging from ancient rock paintings to modern cultural experiences in the heartland of the Himba people.
A Himba woman looks on.
(Image courtesy of Expert Africa)
Regions the Arid Eden Route will take you through
The Arid Eden Route begins in the coastal town of Swakopmund and runs all the way up to northern border with Angola. Something that makes this route quite special is that it winds through the previously restricted western part of Etosha National Park.
The beach at Swakopmund.
Experiences on the Arid Eden Route
The Welwitchia Experience is 860km long and allows travellers to experience all the excitement of Swakopmund as well as the awe-inspiring Etosha National Park. The route, which is mostly gravelled roads, is well maintained and any car with sufficient ground clearance and sturdy enough axel will be able to navigate it.
A typical gravel road in Namibia.
(Photo by Andreas Seehase via Foto Community)
The Windhoek to Galton Experience is the experience that gives adventurers access to the previously mentioned western part of Etosha via the Galton Gate. The route is 520km in length and as you drive from the capital city to the Galton Gate be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife on the verge of the road.
Explore the western parts of Etosha.
German delicatessens, coffee shops and local butcheries with locally sourced game and beef are also dotted along the route. So be sure to take a bit of time out and pop in to one of these establishments.
If you have time (and are properly prepared!) don’t forget to get off the beaten track and explore some of the landscapes that the route traverses. Massive mountain peaks, unique geological formations, desert-adapted wildlife and never ending horizons abound in these parts of the Land of the Brave.
There is wildlife aplenty on this route!
This trail is for those who seek a bit more adrenaline coursing through their veins. The main attractions on this part of the route are surely the Spitzkoppe and Mount Erongo. These mountains are favourites among both mountain bikers and rock climbers and offer several routes up and down their slopes and faces.
Explorers taking in the Spitzkoppe.
The North West Trail also takes travellers past Namibia’s highest mountain, Brandberg. The area around the huge mountain has over 2000 recorded rock art sites and there are professionally run tours that take tourists to the major sites. Such a tour is a must for anyone interested in the ancient history of Namibia.
An example of some of the rock art you can find in the area.
The foothills of the Brandberg are also home to some of Namibia’s desert-adapted elephants. The region is easily accessible and it is thus it one of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of these mighty and rare large mammals.
A young desert-adapted elephant near the Brandberg.
(Image courtesy of the Cardboard Box Travel Shop)
Twyfelfontein (or ǀUi-ǁAis) is another attraction on the North West Trail. It is an official World heritage Site thanks to its numerous petroglyphs and the naturally formed geological wonders like the Organ Pipes and many petrified trees. If you want to explore Twyfelfontein then using the small town of Khorixas is a good idea as it is the last convenient place to stock up with supplies before heading out in the arid northwest.
A unique rock formation near Twyfelfontein.
The Arid Eden Route, as mentioned above, will take you through the heartland of the Himba people of northern Namibia. The Himba Cultural Experience focuses on these unique people and the suggested 443km goes through several homesteads in the area.
The remote Himba settlement at Puros is particularly unique as its massive camel thorn trees provide shelter for all from the unrelenting sun. At Puros there is a supply store where locals and travellers can stock up on essentials like sugar, cooking oil and soap. There is also a billiard table at the store where you can share a conversation and friendly game with some of the Himba people.
A group of Himba cutting loose.
The Four Rivers Route
What you can expect on the Four Rivers Route
The route focuses on getting travellers off the beaten path and the meandering course it takes through the riverine landscape encourages exploration and discovery.
As with the other two routes discussed there are a variety of culturally diverse experiences along the Four Rivers Route. The people of the Zambezi are particularly culturally distinct from the rest of Namibia and this makes this route particularly worthwhile for travellers who have been to Namibia before.
A local homestead in the Zambezi region.
Regions the Four Rivers Route will take you through
This route starts in the northeast at Nkurenkuru and going through the lush Zambezi (formerly Caprivi) region and on to the world-famous Victoria Falls. The regions along this route are crisscrossed with rivers and their tributaries and as such this part of Namibia is verdant and teeming with birdlife, wildlife and surprises.
Experiences on the Four Rivers Route
This part of the Four Rivers Route traces 383km through the lush regions along the Kavango River. Starting at Nkurunkuru in the west and ending at the eastern border post of Mohembo the route allows travellers to experience the birds, people and wildlife of the region up close.
The banks of Kavango River are particularly picturesque.
(Image courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)
This route opens up an area for travellers that has only been explored since the nineteenth century and is thus the perfect place for those of you who have the need to explore this lesser seen side of Namibia. The Mahango and Khaudum National Parks on the border of Botswana are also magnificent and are well worth the visit.
Other notable attractions that form part of the Kavango Open Africa Experience include the Mbunza Living Museum, Khaudum National Park, Nyangana Mission, Andara Mission, the Okavango River System and Popa Falls as well as the Mahango National Park.
(Image courtesy of Dr Klaus Dierks)
This experience takes you on an incredible 430km trip through some of the most diverse landscapes and unexpected ecosystems in the Land of the Brave.
One of the most unique parks in the world, Bwabwata National Park, just north of the Okavango Delta is part of this experience. Within in this park there are 5000 residents who live side-by-side with the free-roaming animals in the park.
A hippo at Bwabwata National Park.
(Image via Cardboard Travel Box)
The residents living on this land, thanks to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in Namibia, help run and conserve the ecosystem. The local people then derive financial benefits from the tourists visiting the area in what is one of the most innovative and community-orientated conservation programs in the world.
Locals fishing on the Kavango.
The area surrounding the Kwando River is not only famous for it’s free-roaming elephants but it is also one of the best places to go birding in Namibia. The region is home to over 400 species of birds that live in habitats ranging from acacia woodlands and mopane forests, to floodplains filled with plant and animal.
The river banks in this region are full of varied flora and fauna.
The Four Corners Experience is different from all the other experiences on the three routes we have described as it actually takes you out of Namibia and into two of its neighbouring countries, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Your journey will begin at the Ngoma border post and the trip will take you through the Chobe National Park in Botswana. The route will then lead you to where the mighty Zambezi and Chobe rivers merge. The area where these two great rivers converge is famed for its wildlife and luxury lodges.
The Chobe/Zambezi confluence seen from the air.
(Image via Springbok Classic Air)
The final experience on the Four Corner Route will also take you to one of Africa’s truly great wonders: The Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
The awesome Victoria Falls.
(Photo via Wikimedia)
These are just three routes through the vast expanse of Namibia. Remember, you can always create your adventure. If you feel like putting together your very own roadtrip then why not have a look at our other blog posts on self-drive adventures through the Land of the Brave:
Driving Through Etosha
Motorbiking through Namibia
Namibia is full of hidden treasures and Ongula Village Homestead Lodge near Ondangwa is one such treasure. The lodge can be found nestled next to a traditional Owambo homestead and guests staying there are afforded a unique opportunity to experience life in traditional northern Namibia.
What is Ongula?
Ongula Village Homestead Lodge is community run lodge near the northern town of Ondangwa where travellers who are willing to go out of their way can experience a side of Namibia that most tourists do not ever manage to see.
Ongula in relation to some well-known locations across Namibia.
(Image courtesy of Ongula Lodge)
The whole point of the lodge is to invite tourists, local and international, to take a step back from the frantic urban world and take a peek in to how a rural community in Owamboland lives.
A video briefly explaining how the lodge operates.
(Video courtesy of Ongula Lodge)
The Lodge is built next to a traditional and functional homestead- this is no sterile museum or staged theatrical production- and at Ongula you will be shown exactly how the Owambo people of Namibia’s under-explored northern regions live on a day-to-day basis.
The homestead's entrance.
From the granary, to the kraals, to the central fire pit, visitors are not only shown how the local tribe/community goes about their daily chores but will also be afforded opportunities to take part in some of these daily routines.
A visitor helps grind Mahangu.
Mahangu is a delicious staple found in Namibia’s north.
The focus of the your trip to Ongula will be on getting you immersed in the local culture so that you can get a better understanding of how the community there lives and as such there are several activities that are on offer.
Activities at the Lodge
As mentioned you can take part in several of the day-to-day chores that need to be carried out around the homestead on a daily basis. This could include clay-pot making, basket weaving and even cattle herding.
This structure houses an underground traditional clay-baking facility-
you’ll have to visit to find out what it looks like inside!
While at the lodge you will be taken on a tour of the homestead and the basic functions and purposes of all the various rondawels (traditional huts), living spaces and quarters will be explained to you.
This well has serviced the homestead for generations and it is still in use.
In addition to the various package activities that you can enjoy on-site there are also several day trips that can be organised by the staff at the lodge. These trips will show you a bit more of the surrounds if you have a little extra time to explore the greater Ondangwa area.
Here is a list of some of the day trips on offer at the lodge:
** When you get to the lodge simply ask any of the hospitality staff if there are any activities you can get involved in. The list of things to do is dynamic and there are always new experiences to be had for those willing to get involved.**
The Lodge has electricity, WiFi, bar and restaurant, credit card facilities and four spacious twin bed rooms with private en-suite bathrooms.
Click here to have a look at the lodge’s rates. Book here.
The rooms are appointed with furniture made from recycled materials.
(Photo Courtesy of Ongula Lodge)
**For those of you who can’t get enough of the great outdoors, a camping site is currently under construction at the lodge. If you wish to camp on-site then simply contact the staff at the lodge and enquire as to availability and pricing.**
How to get there
Getting to the Ongula homestead is not a simple matter of driving on a national road and attention has to be paid to which route you will need to take. On the lodge’s website you can find detailed directions explaining how you can get to the lodge from Windhoek, Etosha National Park and Ruacana Falls.
If you have any questions about how to get there or which route is best for you do not hesitate to call the friendly staff at the lodge.
Getting to the lodge is not difficult, it just requires planning.
Voluntourism around Ondangwa
The north of Namibia is beautiful and rugged, but it is also quite underdeveloped. As a result there are many community based projects you can get involved with. From schools to shelters for at risk children and adults there are numerous causes that can benefit from your time.
A good way to get involved in some community-based projects in this region is to work through the Ongula Village Homestead Lodge. Check out some of the projects they directly run, and if none of those take your fancy you can always ask them about other outreach projects that are being run in the region.
More on this topic
The bustling capital of Namibia is a city that proudly wears its history on its sleeve. Buildings, monuments and neighborhoods not only weave a narrative of the local histories and cultures, but it also makes for fascinating sightseeing.
Welcome to Windhoek!
The city is clean, well organized and fairly easy to navigate, making it ideal for walking tours and casual sightseeing. There are few must-visit sites in Windhoek that are all the more interesting when you know a bit of their back story.
This bustling main road cuts through the city centre and on it you will be able to take in the Gibeon Meteorites. 31 of the original 77 meteorites that fell near the town of Gibeon in Southern Namibia have been crafted into an unusual but beautiful piece of municipal art near the Sanlam Building on Independence Avenue. Thought to be over 4 billion years old, the 150 tons of space debris fom part of the largest meoteorite shower in the world.
At the intersection of Independence Avenue and John Meinhert Street, you’ll find the bronze kudu statue, one of Windhoek's best loved statues. This popular landmark and meeting place was unveiled in 1960 and symbolizes a “spirit of hope” and a “shared passion for the beautiful abundance of the country's wild.”
The Christus Kirche
Head up the avenue toward the iconic Christus Kirche church, located on a traffic island in the middle of Robert Mugabe Drive. Take in its curved gables, quartz sandstone walls and elements of Neo Gothic and Art Nouveau, and you will understand why it is often used as the face of Windhoek, on countless postcards and brochures.
The church’s clock and three bells were imported from Germany, as was the stained glass that was manufactured in Nuremberg and was a gift from the Emperor Wilhelm II.
The Christus Kirche.
Visitors to Windhoek are increasingly taking the opportunity to visit the thriving township of Katutura, which itself has a fascinating history linked to the country’s colonial past.
When the League of Nations made Namibia a South African protectorate, many of the apartheid policies and strategies were applied to the city of Windhoek, such as the policy for “separate development”, and in the 1950’s, township areas for the various ethnic groups were created, with a view to keeping the city segregated.
The local black population was relocated to the township of Katutura, a name that means "the place where we do not want to settle". The plans ignited great opposition, eventually culminating in a bloody confrontation on Dec 10, 1959, a date that is today commemorated as “Human Rights Day” in memory of the 13 people who lost their lives.
The Katutura of 1968 consisted of about 4000 standardized rental houses without water and electricity organized into sections of five different ethnic groups. Each house had a living area of 45qm and a large letter on the door symbolizing the tribe (D = Damara, H = Herero etc.). If you look carefully, you can still see some of the letters on the walls to this day.
Jerusalem street, Katatura.
Windhoek's total population is currently around 300 000 people, about 60% of these people live in Katutura. There are many suburbs of Katutura with poignant names such as Soweto, Havana, Babylon and Wanaheda. But residents of the townships have built these neighborhoods into vibrant, prosperous locales that can give visitors a unique insight into Namibian life.
Meat markets and craft centres
Take a guided tour through the lively meat market at Single Quarters, where visitors can have a taste of “kapana”, the local road-side barbecue that is the snack of choice for many Namibians. Or drop in at Soweto market, a commercial centre where small businesses such as seamstresses, vendors and hairdressers thrive.
A local vendor preparing kapana.
Another popular stop is the Penduka Women’s Centre. This non-governmental development organisation aims to empower disadvantaged or disabled women in Namibia by giving them a place to make beautiful hand-crafted souvenirs. In the Oshiwambo and Otjiherero languages the word Penduka means “wake up”.
Arts and crafts...
...made by the women at the Penduka Women's Centre.
For the more daring, visit the infamous Eveline Street – the street that never sleeps. Lined with an array of shebeens (bars), hairdressers & other informal traders, its worth the visit if only to see the quirky names of the bars.
Eating out in Windhoek
Windhoek offers its visitors a plethora of dining options- the international cuisine at places like Stellenbosch Wine bar or the ethnic fare to be found at Xwama in Katutura and the “Penduka” restaurant.
Xwama- fusion culture, fusion food!
While in Namibia, visitors can step out of their gastronomical comfort-zones and get a taste for the local cuisine- from mopane worms, to the local brew omalodhu or more hearty foods like springbok and kudu steaks.
For more great food ideas, take a look at our post on where to eat in Windhoek.
Mopane worms- in a tin.
Go on, try one.
For those who find themselves in Windhoek en-route elsewhere, it can be so much more than just a stopover. Whether you prefer to explore with a guide or on foot, with family or alone, it can offer a memorable, enjoyable Namibian experience.
Picturesque- Parliament Gardens in Windhoek.
Every year for the last 55 years Windhoek celebrates its German heritage in one of the best ways possible: By holding its very own Oktoberfest! The original Oktoberfest has been held in Munich, Germany for over 200 years but when the fest comes to Windhoek you know it’s going to have a uniquely Namibian flavour.
The Oktoberfest in Windhoek is like a little bit of Germany in Namibia.
(image courtesy of SKW)
The event aims to celebrate one of the many cultures that make up the rich tapestry of diversity that is Namibia, and it aims to bring people together for some good old fashioned family fun and games. The event is family friendly and several competitions are held through out the weekend with prizes and surprises for everyone taking part.
Thirsty festival goers in search of more beer!
Festival goers will get the opportunity to enjoy traditional German festival grub like Bretz’n, Weisswurst, Hax’n and Lebkucheherz’n. But perhaps most importantly, there will be Festbier which will be specially brewed for the event by Namibian brew master Christian Meuller. Christian spent some time at Munich’s Oktoberfest picking up some tips and tricks that will no doubt mean better, more authentic beer for the thirsty crowds at the event!
Beer, beer, beer!
(image courtesy of SKW)
What you can do there
Besides the delicious food and drink there will also be a range of activities and attractions to keep everyone happy and entertained. Live music, traditional Oktoberfest games and challenges, as well as other activities will make this event even more memorable for those of you who can make it there. Have a look at the festival’s official Facebook page which will provide you with the low-down on what to expect at the festival.
The Stein lifting competition is always a popular event.
There will be a fine selection of live music that will range from authentic German oompa music to modern rock and roll. Popular traditional German band, Kirchdorfer, will be coming all the way from Munich to Namibia for the second time in as many years.
They are one of the original Oktoberfest bands in Munich and you can see what they’re all about by checking out the video below or by visiting their website.
Kirchdorfer, the official Bavarian Oktoberfest band.
(image courtesy of SKW)
Kirchdorfer at the 2011 Munich Oktoberfest.
(video courtesy of Kirchdorfer)
Carrying the flag for Namibian music at this event will be the popular band Famaz Attak. Famaz play a mixture of blues and rock and will be on hand to make sure that the party goes late into the night!
Famaz Attak will rock you into the late evening.
(image courtesy of SKW)
Head on over to the Hansa website to enter pre-festival competitions and you could stand a chance to win a limited edition beer keg filled with delicious Namibian brew. Be sure to visit their facebook page as well to keep up to date on all things Oktoberfest.
A lucky keg-winner-
check out the Facebook page to find out how you can win!
(image courtesy of Hansa Namibia)
This year's Oktoberfest is due to kick off on the 25th and 26th of October, with doors opening on Friday evening at 19:00, and closing only in the early morning hours of Sunday morning. There is a full program of events for the weekend so have a look below and see what's happening.
Oktoberfest program at the SKW (subject to change):
Friday 25 October 2013:
Gates open at 16:00
Band starts at 18:00
Official opening by VIPs at 20:00
Music & Entertainment till late
Saturday 26 October 2013:
Gates open at 10:00
Band starts between 12:00 and 13:00
Traditional competitions, games and entertainment during the day
Music & Entertainment till late
Tickets can be bought at www.computicket.com (or at any Shoprite/Checkers outlet) and will cost you N$75 for a day ticket if bought in advance (N$ 90 if bought at the door), or N$120 for the full weekend.
For more info you can get hold of the SKW who are organising the event.
SKW - Sport Klub Windhoek
Telephone: +264 61 235 521
Why you should go
This year marks the third time in a row that Namibia Breweries Limited and Sport Klub Windhoek have joined forces to put on this spectacular event. The two organisations have been working hard to bring the fest to more people every year and they have succeeded in doing so. In 2010 there were 1000 attendees, and in 2012 there was a massive 5000 people enjoying sun, fun and beer at the SKW.
There are several reasons why you should make a turn by the event if you are in the nation’s capital. If you like good food, sunshine, happy people, fresh beer, and all round good fun then you should definitely make your way to the SKW grounds in your finest German attire and prepare yourself for a good time!
There'll be plenty of beer and fun for all at this year's event!
(image courtesy of SKW)
With less than a month to go before 650 International delegates descend on Namibia for the 10th annual Adventure Travel World Summit, Team Destination Namibia is pleased to release the official summit song, !Kgala by Namibian artist, Elemotho.
(image courtesy of KV schiffART)
The adventure tribe was first introduced to Elemotho when his song was used in the short film, Destination Namibia. This video was presented at ATWS 2011 in Chiapas, Mexico and helped to capture the imaginations of delegates and their reaction inspired Namibia to pursue hosting this event.
Fastforward to 2013, and after two years of hard work, we are ready to host our own ATWS and it was a no brainer for us to ask Elemotho if we could use !Kgala as the official Summit song. Listen to it here and be inspired!
Elemotho will be playing at the Summit opening on October 26th 2013.
Namibia has a varied collection of different cultures that live within its borders, and this is a large part of the reason why Namibia is such an incredibly interesting place to visit. From urban centers to national parks the people of Namibia are as varied as its landscapes.
So to celebrate the cultural heritage of all Namibians the National Heritage Council Namibia holds an annual Heritage Week across Namibia to showcase the different cultures that can be found in Namibia. Heritage Week is from the 16th to the 22nd of September 2013 and we're going to explain what that means to you, whether you are a local or just visiting this exciting country.
The San people, one of the oldest communities on earth
The theme for this year’s Heritage Week is ‘Heritage: Namibia’s Knowledge Bank’. The theme is in reference to the continuingly positive influence remembering one’s heritage has on a community or an individual. In Namibia, heritage is how we came to be who we are and is therefore one of the most important things for us to remember.
In order to share the different strands of culture that make up the tapestry of Namibia, the National Heritage Council of Namibia has set aside next week (16-22 of September) to promote museums, art galleries and heritage institutions across the country.
We have collected all the information you will need to take part in the celebrations happening around the country. So whether you are a local looking to reconnect with your roots, or a visitor looking for a meaningful cultural experience, have a look below and see if you can get yourself to any of the following events.
Heritage Week Program of Events
City of Windhoek
The City of Windhoek will be organizing a `Walk for Culture’ on Saturday, 21 September to mark the start of the /Ae//Gams Festival. If you would like to take part please gather at 08:30am (the walk will start at 09.00) next to the new City of Windhoek Museum on Robert Mugabe Avenue. The walkers will visit a number of important heritage sites and encounter cultural performances along the route which will end in Zoo Park.
For more information please contact: Mariah Hamata, Tel: +26461–290-2588, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Namibia Wildlife Resorts
A range of Namibian Heritage Week specials are on offer across NWR’s camps and lodges. Bookings must be made in advance and will include free entry to the Park. Take this special opportunity to enjoy Namibia’s outstanding beauty.
For more information contact: the NWR on +26461-285-7200.
At the Franco-Namibian Centre there will be an exhibition titled ‘What We See’. The exhibition will be open to the public throughout the week (09.00 – 18.00). The exhibition focuses on the racial documentation project that collected the sound recordings and body casts made of people in the 1930s.
For more information contact: Ruth on +26461-387-330.
Gobabeb Desert Research Foundation
The Foundation will be holding a special Open Day will take place on Sunday, 22nd September to celebrate the declaration of the Namib Sand Sea as Namibia’s Second World Heritage Site. UNESCO recognizes the outstanding importance of this site so come and help us celebrate and appreciate the Namib Sand Sea.
For more information contact: Esther Uushona on +264-694-199.
Guided Tours and animal quiz for all local grade 7 groups - by appointment.
For more information contact: The Grootfontein Museum @ Tel +264-67-242-456
Helvi Mpingane Kondombolo Cultural Village and Tsumeb Museum
The Cultural Village will provide free entry to Namibians throughout the week. Guided tours for school groups will take place on Wednesday and Friday at the Tsumeb Museum. The main celebration involving performances by cultural groups will take place on Friday, 20th September. On Saturday 21st September there will be a craft market where visitors will be able to purchase unique Namibian crafts and dine on traditional foods.
For more information contact: Lemmy Geingob, at +264-6722-1056 or +264-81-146-0011,
The museum will host a three-day programme of activities with demonstrations of local crafts and cultural performances involving local schools.
For more information please contact: Ms Valerie Kleintjies on +264-63-221-256.
Munyondo gwaKapande Cultural Village
A programme of activities will be taking place throughout the week at the village. Including a competition for schools on local culture, traditions, and drum-making and playing.
For more information please contact: Mr. Mukuwe +264-81-218-0213, Mr. Pessa +264-81-248-5508/ +264-81-601-6012
A group of skilled local craft-workers will be based at the museum throughout the week. Visitors will be able to learn and observe traditional skills such as basket weaving, pottery making and how to make oil from marula fruit.
For more information please contact: Ms Magdalena Kanaante on +264-65-240-472 or +264-81-249-3108.
National Archives of Namibia and National Library of Namibia
An exhibition that provides archival materials and literature pieces showing the importance of the traditional knowledge of Namibians.
For more information please contact: Mr Werner Hillebrecht on +264-61-293-5211.
National Art Gallery of Namibia
On Saturday 21 September the Gallery will host a panel discussion about ‘Namibian Art’ from 11am to 13.30 with light refreshments included. This is your chance to meet local artists and learn more about the richness and diversity of Namibia artworks.
For more information please contact: Ms Selma Kaulinge @ +264-61-231-160.
National Earth Science Museum
There will be a varied programme of events at the museum throughout the week including screenings of a film on Copper Smelting by the Kwanyama. There will be daily tours from 10:00 in the morning, with a daily treasure hunt for kids from 09:00 to 09:40.
For more information please contact: Ms Helke Mocke at +264-284-8391 or email email@example.com
National Heritage Council
Namibians can enjoy free entry to the Council’s major sites, such as Twyfelfontein World Heritage Site, Heroes Acre and Lake Otjikoto.
For more information please contact: Ms Beverley van Wyk on +264-61-244-375.
National Museum of Namibia
The specialized curators at the museum will be providing unique `backstage’ tours of their collections and are inviting school groups to participate in these tours throughout the week.
For more information please contact: Benson on +264-61-276-817
Ombalantu Baobab Tree Heritage Centre
A programme of activities throughout the week at the centre will include performances by local cultural groups and storytellers throughout the week for visiting groups from local schools.
For more information please contact: Mr Gebhard Shiimbi on +264-81-438-4705
Guided tours of the museum for local school groups throughout the week.
For more information contact: Engela at the Museum on +264-64-402-046
Uukwaluudhi Royal Homestead, Tsandi.
At this homestead, local schools will be participating in a programme of activities and competitions to learn about local culture and heritage.
For more information please contact: Joel Nekwaya on +264-81-285-3249 or Ms Hilda Lita on +264-65-258-025.
University of Namibia: History Society.
The society will mount an exhibition in the foyer of the library and will have a programme of consciousness-raising events for students at the campus on 18th and 19th September. The society is also going to be holding a `Walk for Culture’. Activities will include a cultural performance, a heritage tour, and a quiz on Namibian Heritage for students (with prizes). The event will be held at UNAM Olupale Square on the 18th September 2013 from 10h00 to 14h00.
For more information please contact: Bethel +264-81-871-2057, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Walvis Bay Museum
Activities will take place during the week aimed primarily at local schools. Members of the Topnaar community will be on hand to introduce learners to their cultural traditions. There will also be a demonstration of the ways in which the !Nara melon plays an important role in the communities of this part of Namibia.
For more information please contact: Ms Antoinette Mostert on +264-64-201-3273 or email the museum on email@example.com
Next time you're wandering through the north of Namibia or making your way to Etosha National Park, stray off the beaten track and spend some time in the largest town in the Oshikoto region, Tsumeb. This old mining town has some real gems for the traveller willing to do a bit of exploring. Today we take a look at the Tsumeb Arts Performance Center - an inspiring place where young underprivileged musicians and artists can study and learn to express themselves.
A young child at the Tsumeb Arts and Performance Centre.
Promoting arts and culture with NAPCA
The Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre is run by a non-profit organisation called the Namibian Art Performance Centres Association (NAPCA). The association currently runs three centres in the northern region of Namibia, they can be found in Tsumeb, Omagalanga, and Oshikuku. Each centre provides a space for local communities to learn how to develop their talents in a variety of artistic mediums.
The Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre.
The mediums promoted by these centres range from painting, to acting, to pattern design, to learning how to play an instrument. Basically if there are children interested in any medium or form of art then the NAPCA will try and promote it.
As mentioned the association's primary aim is to particularly promote arts in underdeveloped and disadvantaged communities in Namibia, and through its three centres it is really starting to make a difference in local communities.
Children are able to learn a variety of instruments and skills
at the Arts Performance Centres.
Walking with Lis
When we visited Tsumeb we were fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with one of NAPCA’s founders, Lis Hidber, who spends most of her time in Namibia at the Tsumeb centre. During our time with her Lis gave us a tour of the facilities and described the kind of work that they do.
A statue at the entrance of the centre.
As soon as we started walking around the grounds we were struck at how much time and hard work had gone into the development of the property on which the centre stands.
The cheerily coloured murals and beautifully maintained gardens provide the students with a relaxing space in which to pursue their artistic ambitions. The abundance of classrooms and open courtyards further allows students time to mingle with one another and learn the famously cloudless blue Namibian sky.
One of the many murals painted on the centre's classrooms.
A harp waiting to be played in the courtyard.
Local students, local teachers
Instead of relying on importing teachers from other regions or countries, the Tsumeb centre employs mostly local community members to run the classes and the results have been fantastic. We witnessed firsthand the dedication of the team of teachers and the centre was a hive of activity all day.
Three boys receiving instruction.
Each rondavel on the property is dedicated to a group of instruments and we were fortunate enough to be allowed to peek our heads into a few of these classrooms to see what the teachers and students were getting up to.
The children were all very keen on their instruments and projects, and like children everywhere, most were extremely eager to display their talents to anyone who showed an interest.
These two young boys were part of a talented band of marimba players.
The students are committed to their instruments and this is thanks
to the tireless work of the school's teachers.
These girls took a break from playing their harps to pose for a photo.
Building the arts from the ground up
The centre does not only hone children's artistic abilities... The Tsumeb Art Performance Centre also teaches students at the centre, and members of the nearby communities, how to build, repair and maintain the musical instruments used at the centre.
The workshop can be found at the heart of the APC in Tsumeb. The boys, girls, men and women in the workshop can restring, restore, and even build entirley new instruments that are then used by the students at the centre. So talented is the team at the workshop that some large musical instrument dealers in Windhoek send their instruments to Tsumeb for repairs.
A cello waiting to repaired outside the workshop.
All the instruments used at the APC are maintained by employess that
receive training at the centre.
How does the centre keep going?
The centre relies almost entirely on private donations and Lis’s home country Austria is a massive source of funds for NAPCA and its centres. But any support, from anywhere, is always greatly appreciated and thoughtfully used.
If you wish to make any donations, financial or otherwise, then send NAPCA an email to their address which you can find here.
Inside one of the centre's classrooms...
Many of the instruments have been donated by private citizens.
How to get there
Getting to Tsumeb will take about six hours by car if you are driving from Windhoek. The route follows the B1 which is in good condition and relatively easy going. If you need to hire a car once you get to Namibia then follow this link for some rental agencies.
If you cannot drive, or do not want to drive yourself, then don't panic! Intercape is a bus company that operates in certain regions of Namibia and there is a bus that travels between Tsumeb and Windhoek.
The Tsumeb Art Performance Centre's operating hours and contact details.
Feel free to call and ask how you can get involved with their projects.
The entire experience at the Tsumeb Arts Performance Centre was fantastic and a visit to the centre should be considered by any traveller exploring the north of Namibia. It was extremely moving to see children using the centre's program to learn how to play and master instruments usually reserved for the more financially fortunate segments of Namibia.
While travelling through Namibia you will come across towns like Tsumeb. Do not make the mistake of always driving through them on your way to your predetermined destination. Allow a little bit of leeway in your holiday schedule, take a few detours, because you never know what you may discover.
Emeritta Lillo is on the road with the #GoBigNamibia tour. Each day she'll be sharing their adventures, so stay tuned for some handy travel tips and inspiration. Follow the team on Twitter @NamibiaHorizons #GoBigNamibia and Facebook for a chance to win
Today the Go Big team woke up early. After a breakfast of ostrich eggs we piled in the van and headed northwards towards Tsintsabis to meet the San people. The San are one of the 13 different ethnic groups in Namibia and believed to be the world’s first people.
We arrived at Treesleeper Camp and met our guide Elvis. He took us on a winding bushwalk where he explained the healing properties of the Aloe Plant, the Thamboti tree and how a droplet of sap from the Tiger Lilly plant was used to poison arrow tips for hunting.
The team got a lesson in survival from Elvis and he taught us to start a fire the San way. Two wooden sticks and some grass rubbed just right can mean the difference between a cooked meal and a safe camp!
Ees and Liz picked up the technique right away making them the people we’d “most like to be stuck on a desert island with.”
The San use string made from onions
Ever wondered how to catch a guinea fowl for dinner? Elvis shows us how
To light a fire, all you need is two sticks and some dry grass...
...but it's not as easy as it looks!
Ees meets some fans en route to Etosha
Read what the other Go Big adventurers had to say about theire encounter with the San:
Laurel Robins on Monkeys & Mountains
Rachel Lang on Africa Geographic
Follow Emeritta and her fellow adventurers on their #GoBigNamibia tour
A couple of World Nomads are on their virgin African adventure here in Namibia. Fresh off the plane from Iceland and India, they chose Namibia as their third and final destination for a series of documentaries focusing on the real people and stories behind top travel destinations.
In Namibia, we're all for adventure tourism - getting travellers to experience life in Namibia and to interact with locals, rather than just being a passive observer. Maybe it's because we have so many different cultures here, or because there aren't that many people for such a big country. Either way, we're always happy to welcome travellers.
“The people have been fantastic. Everyone we’ve met has just been so friendly and welcoming, not to mention really interesting to talk to.”
Here are some photos of the World Nomads team battling the dunes in Swakopmund and getting to know some of the locals in Mondesa township. Next on the agenda is a trip up north to meet the Himba and a wonder through Windhoek to find some of the more interesting and lesser-known characters who've made the capital their home.
Click the video below to watch Sussan's sandboarding wipeout (!)
Desert as far as the eye can see, with fog hanging over the horizon for dramatic effect
Sussan giggles nervously as Nico prepares her for speeding down a super steep dune face
Mamma producer begins to wonder if this classifies as work, as the sandboarding pros get a rhythm work-out going
A local Herero woman in Mondesa talks about the trials and tribulations of township life
It doesn't matter where you are in the world, it's easy to spot the teenager's bedroom...
Outside a pre-pay water pump in the informal settlements
The home of the local healer, who spoke about how traditional practices and modern medicine co-exist
Sussan gets serenaded by local township "a cappella boyband" Vocal Galore
At the end of the day, what more could you ask for but an ice cold Windhoek beer at the local shebeen, to soak in all the stories told and people met along the way