Visitors! After a year of no events due to Corona, the Deutsche Höhere Privatschule Windhoek (DHPS) could finally welcome special guests again for its “Cultural Day” on 19 March 2021. Shortly after International Women’s Day and shortly before Namibia’s Independence Day, four strong Namibian women from arts and culture visited this German School Abroad to discuss “Namibian identity in the arts” with the grade 10 learners.
Authors Erika von Wietersheim and Ellen Namhila, musician Lize Ehlers and artist Tuli Mekondjo spoke to each other and the learners about how Namibia’s cultural and linguistic diversity has formed and still forms their personal and artistic identity, how this sometimes fragmented identity may not always be easy to grasp, but is nevertheless a gift, how we should never cease to share this diversity with each other and the world. Able moderators Iris and Ines Fischer, Dean Tuneeko, Joshua Beukes and Jilian Gong, all grade ten pupils, guided the audience and panelists through the conversation with charm and enthusiasm.
Moved faces as Ellen Namhila remembers that she could not find records about the history of black Namibians when she started to work at the National Archives of Namibia shortly after Independence and spontaneous applause when she explains how this inspired her to start writing down the stories of Namibian women. Laughter when Lize Ehlers admits to sweetly greeting her German husband with “Guten Morgen, Schatz.” for breakfast, while she prefers a hearty Afrikaans “Kom hierso!” to summon her children, just as Afrikaans is generally the language of her heart and passion, including singing. When she proceeds to actually sing, the masses are at her feet. (“Masses” are of course relative because a division of the grade 10’s into two groups and the division of the artists’ panel into two “shifts” has ensured a Corona-compatible number of 50 participants per event, but the applause is definitely worthy of a full house.) Murmurs of agreement and shining eyes as Tuli Mekondjo proclaims that now is the time for young black women in the world of arts; she herself is a good example. One can almost see flying fingers, as Erika von Wietersheim calls on all aspiring young writers to start writing down today the things that move them, but also those that make up their everyday life. Maybe one day these writings will be turned into a book, which, like her own “Good morning Namibia”, will enrich our Namibian story by a unique yet unifying perspective.
No wonder that nobody complained that the big break had to be postponed in order to make this encounter possible.
(Article: Sylvia Schlettwein, DHPS)