Museums Association of Namibia
The Museums Association of Namibia (MAN) is an umbrella organisation that represents all Namibian museums. As a representative body it supports museums in various ways such as in the field of training, funding and the networking of professionals.
Archaeologists have been excavating ancient human settlements in Africa for many years. Archaeological research has helped build our knowledge of pre-colonial Africa based on the objects that have been uncovered. The excavations also involved the removal of human remains from ancient graves and the study of these skeletons has given insight into subjects such as the diet of these ancestors and the cause of their death.
However, in the early colonial period, some museums also sought human remains as `specimens’ of racial types that contributed to theories of racial hierarchies and the construction of racial stereotypes. Bodies were often obtained in an unethical way with bodies removed from recent graves (or even before they were buried) without the consent of their family. The University of Namibia recently hosted a workshop that bought together museum workers, academics and community activists to discuss a regional approach to the sensitive issue of human remains in museum collections.
The workshop was funded by the Commonwealth Association of Museums (CAM) and the International Council of Museums (ICOM). The workshop provided an opportunity to start a `conversation’ in Southern Africa about the best way to develop guidelines. It was argued that it was important that people who had been `collected’ as `specimens’ were `rehumanised’ so that their bodies are treated with dignity and respect. The workshop was particularly timely as IZIKO Museums of South Africa have identified almost 160 `unethically’ collected human remains, the majority of which were collected from Namibia.
The collection reflects a particular focus on obtaining bodies from the San and Nama communities as, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, it was believed that these communities would become `extinct’. However the collection also includes a significant number of human remains from northern Namibia that were collected after Ondjala yekomba (`the famine that swept’) of 1914-1916. European museums are also reviewing their collections and have already started returning human remains. The most prominent recent examples have been the return of fifty-five individuals from German museums to Namibia in 2011 and 2014 and the reburial of Koos and Trooi Pienaar in South Africa in 2012 following the return of their bodies from the Museum of Natural History in Vienna, Austria.
Ms Veno Kauaria, the Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, who officially opened the workshop, set the tone for discussions by raising some important questions. “How do we decide whether human remains in our collection were obtained ethically? How do we find out whose human remains are in our museums, how old they are and how they got there? What should be the time period after which human remains can be legitimately excavated for research purposes . . . 150 years? 200 years? 1,000 years? When, if ever, might it be justified to display human remains in our museums?
How do we decide what should happen to unethically collected human remains after they are returned to our countries or found in our museums? Do we give them a Christian burial, even if they were not Christians? Should we not grant them the respect of a proper burial to recognise that they were people and not specimens? Who should be consulted and how? What do we do when there is insufficient information to trace the descendants? Should unethically collected human remains be returned, as far as possible, to their place of origin ?”
Dr Rudo Sithole, the Secretary-General of the African Council of Museums provided the keynote address and highlighted the fact that it would be useful if museums in Africa could collaborate to develop appropriate guidelines to deal with the issue. The current project is developing tools to help facilitate this conversation, particularly in Southern Africa.
CAM provided funding to place a Canadian intern, Ms Paige Linner, with the Museums Association of Namibia for six months. Ms Linner assisted with the development of a small mobile exhibition that will be used as an educational tool by UNAM and that could be used to help facilitate community consultations. Additionally the project has set up a web site, www.humanremainsinsouthernafrica.org, that will be used to share relevant guidelines and policies as well as readings and educational materials and that will expand with the project. It is proposed that a further workshop should take place in Botswana in 2019.
On the 19th-20th February 2018, the Museums Association of Namibia (MAN) hosted a stakeholder’s workshop in Omuthiya, Namibia as the first step towards the development of The Museum of Namibian Music. This museum will be the first of its kind in Namibia. The development of the museum is one of the four components in a project entitled Museum Development as a Tool for Strengthening Cultural Rights in Namibia (MDTSCRN),
funded by the European Union and implemented by MAN that was launched in Windhoek on the 27th November 2018.
The European Union will provide 237,025.00 Euros over a two-year period to support activities being implemented by the Museums Association of Namibia to support regional museum development. The workshop was an information-sharing session that brought together 29 stakeholders in the form of musicians across all cultures,genres and demographics, archivists, culture officers from the Directorate of Heritage and Culture Programs, music lecturers from COTA, UNAM and APC, tourism and intellectual property experts from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and NASCAM, museum experts, composers and musicologists.
The workshop covered issues relating to the development and sustainability of the museum: collecting or reproducing traditional musical instruments, developing a `dream’ for the museum, marketing the museum to the Namibian public, archiving Namibian music and memorabilia (such as posters and LP covers), the role of music during the liberation struggle, gospel music in Namibia, collecting and policy development, exhibitions to be showcased in the museum and the languages that they are to be written in and the facilities that the museum should offer to the general public.
The workshop was held in Omuthiya which will be the home of the museum. The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture has availed a state of the art building in Omuthiya to house the museum and music archive. The chosen venue is in line with MAN’s commitment to decentralize development and create employment and economic growth in different communities across the country. The museum will be an educational and entertainment hub for all Namibians, also encouraging domestic and foreign tourism. MAN hopes to develop a museum that will be informative, educational, interactive and sustainable in a way that will encourage multiple visits.
The Museums Association of Namibia is inviting musicians and members of the public to assist by identifying musical instruments, recordings, photographs or stories that might be included in the museum. If you require further information please contact Ms Ndapewoshali Ndahafa Ashipala at the Museums Association of Namibia on 061-302230 or museums @iway.na
The Museums Association of Namibia in collaboration with the European Union and the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture would like to invite you to the official launch of the `Museum Development as a Tool for Strengthening Cultural Rights in Namibia’ Project to be launched by Her Excellency, Jana Hybaskova, Ambassador of the European Union to Namibia.
Date: Monday, 27th November 2017
Venue: JoJo’s Music and Art Café, Craft Centre/Old
Breweries Complex, Garten Street, Windhoek
RSVP: Ndapewoshali Ndahafa Ashipala,
Museums Association of Namibia
Tel: +264 61 302230
*Refreshments will be served.*
Members of MAN and of ICOM Namibia have a great opportunity to attend an international Conference being hosted by Namibia. The International Committe for Training of Personnel (ICTOP) Conference brings together colleagues from all over the world who are training museum workers. It will take place on 11th-13th October at the Safari Conference Centre and the University of Namibia. The theme of the Conference is 'Curators and Communities'. Namibians should complete the registration form and return it to MAN with proof of payment before 1st September, 2017. Be part of the global conversation that will help us all make museums matter !
Below you will find two documents;
1. The Interactive ICTOP Registration Form
2. An announcement of ICTOP Fellowships to support people wishing to attend the Conference.
We're pleased to announce that, during the Tri-annual Conference of the Commonwealth Association of Museums (CAM) held in June 2017 in Canada, our very own Dr Jeremy Silvester was elected to serve a three year term on the CAM Board.
The Board also includes representatives from Canada, Guyana, India, Kenya, Pakistan, New Zealand and the UK. We believe that this marks a recognition of the innovative work that Dr Silvester has been doing in the museum sector in Namibia.
Congratulations on your appointment Jeremy!
The Museums Association of Namibia in collaboration with the Embassy of Finland in Namibia and the Climate Change Exhibition Working Group, would like to invite you to the Official Launch of the “Changing Climate, Changing Namibia” Mobile Exhibition
Date: Thursday 27th April, 2017
Venue: Habitat Research & Development Centre
RSVP: Ndapewoshali Ashipala
Tel: +264 61 302230
* Refreshments will be served *
Friday 18th of November 6pm
at the Katutura Community Art Centre.
The 2016 season runs from 3 to 7 October and is framed as an intersectional dialogue of art, archivism and activism.
The National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN) in collaboration with the Arts Association Heritage Trust (AAHT) and the John Muafangejo Art Centre (JMAC) is pleased to host 'Muafangejo: Memory and Activism', an exhibition of works by the late Namibian printmaker, John Ndevasia Muafangejo. This exhibition forms part of the John Muafangejo Season, a new project initiated by JMAC which aims to honour the remarkable legacy of John Muafangejo through a programme of community engagement activities with local and guest practitioners from the Southern African region.
As part of this season, the exhibition, 'Muafangejo: Memory and Activism' is on show at the NAGN in the Foyer from 3 October to 5 November 2016. Additionally, the NAGN will house a JMAC ARTiculation Session on 5 October 2016 around the theme ‘Muafangejo as memory for protest today’.