Marginalized Namibian People Try To Regain Photography After Colonialism

Marginalized Namibian People Try To Regain Photography After Colonialism

A lot of men and women consider photography as the supreme democratic mass medium. Everyone can upload and take a selfie to international platforms. Pictures taken by average folks and shared on societal media have led to political change, such as throughout the Egyptian revolution of 2011.

Up to 80 percent of the Herero cultural group and massive parts of different groups were wiped from the German colonial military system. Photography played a part in justifying these massacres and at what followed.

Namibia’s archives include pictures of proud German troops standing to attention near the bodies of Herero prisoners. In recent years that followed colonial police tried to depict a milder aspect of white rule. Pictures of black folks fascinated by white technologies — cameras, planes, automobiles — aren’t uncommon.

Throughout interviews I conducted for my newly filed doctoral dissertation, native San people clarified, in a variety of villages and on certain development projects, the privilege of taking photos of San individuals was exchanged for cash and donations of meals.

This fact threatens to restrict how photography could be emancipatory later on. My study included numerous Namibian organisations which have made photography component of the mission to enable marginalized men and women. I discovered their job is often amazingly positive, challenging widely held Namibian social standards and portraying a urgent need to be viewed. However, the devil is in the detail, and frequently that detail relates to continuing patterns of urgency.

Various Ways of Seeing

The organisations that I worked with search to “return” photographs from its historic and current manipulation. They plan to go marginalized Namibians involved with educating their own stories and documenting their particular communities through photography.

We were relatively privileged Namibians and needed to take this into consideration when attempting to help people empower themselves through pictures making without centring our personal encounters, particularly when acting as educators and specialists.

The part of the instructor and the part of the specialist are equally traditionally imbued with a level of power. Such ways of thinking about understanding are debatable since they suggest that for every expert, there’s a non-expert who must be “awarded” information.

As I’ve explained at a TEDx talk linked to the job , this can be an especially pervasive danger in regards to education regarding technology.

However, research demonstrates people learn at a much better and more empowering manner when they’re permitted to build their own expertise, and therefore are the proprietors of a procedure which determines what knowledge is essential and what’s not.

During my study, I managed to find out what happens when conventional methods of thinking are placed aside and electricity is given to pupils to photographically clarify their particular individuality. The results could be interesting and distinctive.

San people are commonly photographed. However, their very own pictures, they take themselves, barely appear in printed or exhibited photographic work.

The major picture of this article was shot by Tertu Fernandu, among those San members of a photographic project I work on. She’s active in many organisations which represent the San as a collective.

It is interesting to notice the advertising sign to get a curio/tourist store referred to as “Bushman Art” behind her. Bushman is expression imposed upon many different San cultural groups by Westerners, and is occasionally regarded as derogatory from the San themselves. Stylized representations of average Namibian ancient stone paintings, as allegedly emblematic of San or “Bushman” civilization, are visible within their signal and can also be painted onto the wall behind it.

From the gap between its subject and the background, then, the image appears to indicate a disconnect between what San individuals were regarded as previously and what they’re now. Additionally, it reveals the differences between representations of San individuals offered to overseas visitors as well as the features of living Namibian San folks in fact.

Challenging Power

They frequently used symbolism in photos to illustrate such feelings.

This picture was shot though the window of a curio store which sells artefacts allegedly representing Namibia, mostly for tourists. On the interior of the window that a lady of a Himba woman and kid wearing traditional dress could be viewed, and what seem like a necklace along with a carved sculpture of an elephant.

The image appears to imply there are a lot of methods of being Namibian, which the picture presented to overseas traffic is only partly accurate. It is just part of the narrative.

These images appear to challenge, or question, social power relationships in Namibia. My participants stated in interviews that pictures may be a struggle to power arrangements. They said it might, as an instance, reveal queer Namibians — that face tremendous discrimination — as ordinary people with hopes and wants just like anybody else. It had been regarded as a means to get”the youth” to speak about and to each other through social networking.

Photography In Future

It’s to be expected that Namibians considering photography continue to participate with the photographic album and inquire how they could make their practice more humanist.

This is occurring to some degree. Quite a few young urban black girls are creating challenging photographic perform inside the genre of “afrofuturism”. But more should be done in order to take this motion to rural locations.

Simply speaking, it’s crucially important that marginalized Namibians are invited to carry up cameras to record their lives — in their own terms.