Traditional cultures in Namibia
Welcome to the website of the Living Culture Foundation Namibia (LCFN). The LCFN is a non-profit, German-Namibian organization, which focuses on cultural cooperation in rural areas in Namibia.
We help Namibian communities to establish Living Museums.
Living Museums in Namibia
A Living Museum is an authentic way of presenting traditional culture and has three main aims:
- Fight against poverty in Namibia
- Preservation of traditional culture
- Creation of a cultural and intercultural exchange
Visitors of the Living Museums can learn a lot about the interesting cultures of Namibian language groups and have a great opportunity to get to know the people of Namibia. Every visit to a Living Museum actively contributes to the preservation of traditional culture and the creation of a source of income in rural areas.
On the 5th of November the Living Culture Foundation Namibia (LCFN) opened the 6th Living Museum in Namibia: The Ovahimba Living Museum. Together with the San, the Mafwe, the Mbunza and the Damara, the Ovahimba are now the 5th language group to own a Living Museum and to invite visitors to get to know their culture.
What started with an idea and an initiative of John Tjipurua - now the manager of the Living Museum - and the Living Culture Foundation, could turn into a productive success story which developed within 1.5 years. The opening of the Museum was a huge success for us!
It is with great pleasure that we announce the official opening of yet another Living Museum. Over the last year we have travelled to Omungunda – 40 km north of Opuwo – on a regular basis to hold meetings, motivate and guide. The efforts have not been fruitless and we are proud to invite you to the opening of the sixth Living Museum in Namibia: The Ovahimba Living Museum.
The Museum will officially open its “doors” to guests on the 05th November 2016 and we would like to give you the opportunity to come and celebrate this day with us. A demonstration of the program will be held in the morning whilst the opening ceremony will take place in the afternoon.
The aim of a second project meeting in March 2016 at the newly emerging Living Museums was to get an impression of progress of this project so far and to further motivate the Ovahimba project group to tackle challenges and to continue establishing their Living Museum.
The museums supported by us owe their existence to the income they make from tourism in Namibia. A lot of visitors to Namibia enjoy visiting the museums for an extended time and decide to camp directly at the Living Museums.
This of course increases the income for museums that have a campsite. Not only does the campsite itself generate income, but guests are taking part in numerous programs offered as they have more time at hand. Those who have camped at one of the Living Museums of the San know what an up-close and personal experience it is and how much this contributes to an eventful visit at the museums.
Three of the five museums supported by us don’t have a campsite yet and LCFN would like to help the communities with the establishment of traditionally kept campsites. Therefore we would like to sincerely ask you for donations for the development of campsites at the Damara, the Mafwe and the Mbunza Museum.
In July the LCFN office in Windhoek was visited by Andrea Pérez-Mora who visited three Living Museums in Namibia, to write her thesis: "Potentials of a south-south cooperation between civil society organizations in Namibia and Ecuador in the field of environment and minority rights".
LCFN and the 5 Living Museums have been members of the MAN – Museums Association of Namibia. In 2014 we were able to place applications for funds to support our LCFN foals and aims. These aplications have been processed and at the end of 2014 we received donations for LCFN, the Living Museum of the Mafwe and the Ju/’Hoansi.
At the beginning of 2015 all of the 5 Living Museums supported by LCFN received new sign boards. The old boards have been exposed to the elements for so long that some of them weren’t even legible anymore. As the Living Museums are not only visited by guided tours but also receive a lot of self-driving guests clear signposting is of high importance.
In 2014 the Living Culture Foundation (LCFN) has a big anniversary to celebrate: Ten years of operations of the Living Museum of the Ju/’Hoansi-San in Grashoek.
The project started in 2004, initiated and motivated by the Namibian tour guide and survival-operator Werner Pfeifer, who was actually looking for the Devil’s Claw plant in the area. The San of Grashoek impressed Werner and he told them about his work as Stone-Age expert in European Living Museums. The people from Grashoek showed great interest and started a first attempt to build such a Living Museum according to the European example with their own traditional knowledge.
ON 08 September 2014 two of our members in Germany had organized a presentation about the traditional culture of the San. Werner Pfeifer was having a speach about the San, afterwards traditional craft and some DVDs about the Living Museums were sold - all income for work of the Living Culture Foundation Namibia.
The museums association of Tangermünde donated 1000 € to the Living Culture Namibia e.V. Thank you very much. The museums association of Tangermünde together with the town Tangermünde had organized the International Day of Museums in Tangermünde on 18.05.2014, which has been a very successful project of public relations in Germany.
During the last year we often had the feedback that the visit in both Living Museums of the Ju/‘Hoansi had been fantastic, but much too short. Many guests had wished for an even deeper insight into the life of the San and many could imagine to actually spend a couple of days with the San in order to experience their traditional way of life.
In 2013 some positive developments could be registered at the Mbunza Living Museum, which has been operating since 2011. Whilst only few visitors found their way to the museum at Rundu in 2012, the numbers increased well in 2013 and the Mbunzas are very satisfied. The young members of the museum were able to learn a lot from the elders and so the art of black smiting, pottery and much more has improved. Also the wealth of knowledge is increasing daily.
In 2013 the Living Museums have joined the official Museums Association of Namibia (MAN). This umbrella group represents all museums and supports the continuous development of museums by financial and organisational means, project trainings (for example in financial administration) and it offers a professional network with other organisations.
Furthermore the Living Museums are now part of EXARC, a reputable international platform and archaeological collection, which unifies four networks under its umbrella: Subjects are Archaeological Open-Air Museums, Experimental Archaeology, Ancient Technology and Interpretation. Consiting of more than 200 members in 30 countries the opportunity of a professional network, through which we can establish good contacts for future projects is given.
Today the 09th August 2013 marks the day of the indigenous peoples. This day was proclaimed by the general assembly of indigenous peoples in 1994 and intends to strengthen and to protect the rights of indigenous peoples.
On this note we hope that the rights of all indigenous peoples worldwide, who in most cases represent minorities and are often endangered fringe groups, will finally be respected from the governments.
In 2010 LCFN had already tried to convince a group of Ovahimba of the concept of the Living Museums. After initial successes and a very positive response friction rose within the project group and problems occurred with the local tourist guides (as we reported). Now another project group found us, this time from Purros, a small community situated at the beautiful Hoarusib River in Namibia’s north-west.
5 Living Museums in Namibia
At the end of July 2012 we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Living Culture Foundation Namibia. Our young organisation of voluntary members has done a lot during these five eventful years. The most obvious result: 5 very differing museums throughout Namibia, which all follow the same goal: To preserve the tradition and culture of the people of Namibia and to pass it on to younger generations.