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Living Museums in Namibia

A Living Museum is an authentic way of presenting traditional culture and has three main aims:

1

Fight against poverty in Namibia

By developing a Living Museum local communities can create a sustainable source of income

2

Preservation of traditional culture

With the work in Living Museums people in communal areas are encouraged to deal with their traditional culture to protect or regain important parts of their cultural identity.

3

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.

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Mbunza infrastructure project (part 1) completed

Mbunza infrastructure project (part 1) completed

Thanks to a very generous donation of €3,600 from Ms. Ute Schmidt-Rohr, we were able to successfully complete the first part of the water infrastructure project at the Mbunza Living Museum.

A pump was installed at the Samsitu campsite very close to the Living Museum and it continuously pumps water via a small mini-pipeline into a 2500m³ tank at the museum. Thus, for the first time since the opening in 2011, the museum project workers have a regulated water supply directly at the project site.

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Project meeting for the development of a Herero Living Museum

Project meeting for the development of a Herero Living Museum

 This meeting was a "follow-up" to the previous meeting in March 2022 to assess the project progress in the development of a Herero Living Museum in Otjokavare. From our side, two things were essential. Firstly: Better communication structures must be created. Secondly: There must be a clear agreement on further cooperation with the Herero community from Otjokavare and a commitment to the concept of the "Living Museum" with all of ist interwoven principles.

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Mafwe Museum sign erection and project meeting

Mafwe Museum sign erection and project meeting

In August 2022 we paid a visit to the Mafwe at the Living Museum in the northern part of Namibia to, among other things, install a new road sign.

The erection of the sign had become necessary because the Mafwe had moved two years ago and some of the tour operators, who until then had only known the old place, were going to nowhere out of habit. The sign erected two years ago at the crossroads 3km south of the museum was too easy to miss. Therefore it was necessary to put up a bigger sign.

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Mbunza infrastructure project news

Mbunza-Opening-04---traditional-fishing

The first stage of the water infrastructure project for the Mbunza is, thanks to a very generous donation, in the starting blocks.

The access to a supply of water is one of basic human needs. However, this need is not fulfilled in many parts of Namibia. This is also the case in the Mbunza Living Museum in Northern Namibia, about 15 km west of the town of Rundu. The staff of the living Museum does not have a water supply and needs to carry water from a great distance.

To ensure a regular water supply (and further development) for the Mbunza we launched the "Infrastructure project for the Mbunza".

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Call for donations - Sustainable Infrastructure Development for the Mbunza Living Museum

Call for donations - Sustainable Infrastructure Development for the Mbunza Living Museum

We have a new infrastructure project and ask for your support. This project is about supplying the Mbunza community with clean drinking water (step 1) and creating a sustainable source of income in the form of a small campsite for visitors to the Living Museum (step 2).

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Khwe Museum pre-opening

Khwe Museum pre-opening

We are happy to announce the pre-opening of the Living Museum of the Khwe.

Supported by our project partners Gebeco and Futouris e.V. we have repeatedly organized workshops and project meetings with a group of Khwe-San from Mut’icu to develop a living museum in the last two years.  This work was quite successful and we are proud that the 7th Living Museum in Namibia is ready to receive visitors.

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The Khwe Living Museum is developing

The Khwe Living Museum is developing

The Khwe museum project is developing in a very good direction. To maintain the positive tendencies, we organized a traditional workshop in the museum on March 24th and 25th, 2021. The aim of the workshop in March was, among other things, to make traditional clothing, tools and weapons. Furthermore, the museum program should be supplemented by other traditional activities. The activities are, of course, also focused on the motivation of the project group. 

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Project report by Dr. Ralf Kühn

Project report by Dr. Ralf Kühn

Read a project report from the LCFN project tour 2020 by Ralf Kühn and Sebastian Dürrschmidt with the visit of four projects.

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Project completed – Aid supply for the Living Museums

Project completed – Aid supply for the Living Museums

We made it! In these testing times we have finally managed to deliver all aid supplies of our 6000€ fund raiser to the Living Museums.

Goal was to supply all Living Museums supported by us with basic food products to the value of 1000€ per museum to help the actors and their families to make it through this tourist and income free time.

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Food deliveries to Mbunza and Mafwe

Food deliveries to Mbunza and Mafwe

The first two Living Museums have received the long awaited emergency food supplies.

After a couple of problems with suppliers in Windhoek resulting in some delays in the delivery of goods we were able to transport the supplies to the Mbunza and Mafwe. The joy was huge in both Living Museums

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Update: Corona crises emergency donations

John-Blankets

John, the manager of the Ovahimba Living Museum visited us these days in Windhoek and has now received the first delivery of blankets.

In the following weeks, all other Living Museums will also receive the blankets, as well as the Corona Emergency food supplies, for which we are still collecting donations through betterplace.

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Donation of blankets and update: Emergency aid for Living Museums

Donation of blankets and update: Emergency aid for Living Museums 220 blankets for 220 museum actors

Based on the Corona situation in Namibia we sent out a donation call for a Corona emergency package on Betterplace at the end of May. Currently we managed to collect donations of 4000 Euros, 2000 E are still missing so that every museum can receive food supplies of 1000 E. Here you can continue supporting us:

Corona emergency support on Betterplace

We also received numerous donations directly onto our foundation account. We are very thankful and impressed by the willingness to support us during these difficult times.

Great donation - 220 blankets for 220 museum actors

Through our call for support Alexandra Sacharow from Red Earth Safaris learned about our emergency project. Her German clients Jürgen and Brigitte of the German company Siebdruck Uth donated 220 blankets for 220 actors in the Living Museums to a total value of N$ 13.200. We also want to extend our hearty thanks to that!

We received the thick wool blankets just now - fittingly on one of the coldest winter mornings of the passed years here in Windhoek. Together with the food donations the blankets will be distributed to the Living Museums in the next few days - we will keep you informed!

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Corona situation in the Living Museums in Namibia: Call for donations - Every help counts

Corona situation in the Living Museums in Namibia: Call for donations - Every help counts

Like everywhere else in the World the Corona virus has led to a collapse of the tourism industry in Namibia. The safety measures in Namibia began with the halt of international air traffic on March 15 and with the restriction of local travel and school curriculum on March 27 (Namibian Lockdown)

For the six living museums we support this means a total loss of all income since mid-March 2020. Neither international tourists (about 90% of museum visitors) nor local travelers or school classes were able to visit the living museums and the future is uncertain, as it is currently still unclear when international travel will be possible again. Local tours have been allowed again, but the Namibian economy is so weakened that hardly anybody is travelling.

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Traditional workshop with the Khwe to encourage the establishment of a Living Museum close to Divundu

Traditional workshop of the Khwe at the Ju/‘Hoansi site Traditional workshop of the Khwe at the Ju/‘Hoansi site

Since 2009 the LCFN has been trying to set up a project in the form of a living museum with the Khwe San in northern Namibia, unfortunately so far without success. Constantly changing project groups, little motivation and unrealistic demands by the Khwe group members, as well as some failed approaches by external development aid organizations made us think of the project as a failure.

We made a final attempt in January 2020. This was encouraged and financed by the Futouris association from Germany and the Namibian travel agency ATC, which have been supporting the traditional village of the Khwe since 2013. As a project sponsor in Germany, the German travel agency Gebeco is supporting the project.

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Project tour November 2019 - Visiting the Damara and Ovahimba Living Museums

Project tour November 2019 - Visiting the Damara and Ovahimba Living Museums

This year a project trip to visit two of the LCFN museums was done by Sebastian Dürrschmidt, Vojtěch Šeba, Ralf Kühn (LCFN members), Ingo Kühn and photography student Gustav Lorenz.

The aim was to assess the state and the past development of the Damara museum at Twyfelfountain and the Ovahimba museum located close to Opuwo which had been opened three years ago. This was done in order to find opportunities for possible improvement.

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New Signboards for the Mbunza and Mafwe Museum

New Signboards for the Mbunza and Mafwe Museum

As marketing and consulting organisation the Living Culture Foundation Namibia is also responsable for the proper signposting of the six museums it is supporting in Namibia. The relentless heat of the sun especially up north fades and burns away the colours of the signboard to the extend that we have to replace them every 2 – 3 years.

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Mafwe Museum at new location

Mafwe Museum at new location

The Living Museum of the Mafwe has moved. In mid-February 2019, we were able to carry out the long-awaited relocation of the Living Museum of the Mafwe.

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Living Museums in Numbers

In-Numbers

The tourism in Namibia is at a peak in 2017 and 2018 and the Living Museums are visited by quite a number of people in the last two years. Here are our statistics for the last year 2017.

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Namibia holiday 2018 - Travel report

Namibia holiday 2018 - Travel report

Here is the travelogue of Ulrike Laupichler, who won the Namibia holiday from the LCFN lottery:

We were greeted at the airport by the driver who took us to Africa on Wheels, where we were able to take over our Toyota Hilux 4x4. The car was equipped with brand new tires and carried us almost 3,000 km through Namibia without any problems

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Werner on tour

Werner-On-Tour

Werner will be at the Living Hunter's Museum and the Ju/'Hoansi-San Museum this week to help with the installation of new signboards and campsite add ons. Of course there will be some community meetings as well. End of the week Werner will also meet with a young group of Damara from the Spitzkoppe who might be interested in establishing a Living Museum. We will keep you updated.

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Namibia Tour – We thank our supporters

Namibia Tour – We thank our supporters

The Living Culture Foundation gives thanks: Last year we had a brilliant fund-raiser by organising a raffle with a 14-day Namibia journey as main prize. The lucky winner of the tour, Ulrike Laupichler enjoyed the 14-day tour through Namibia from 22.01. – 03.02.2018 with her friend Sascha Müller.

A detailed tour review will follow shortly: We want to express our gratitude to the following sponsors, who made this fund-raiser a success:

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The history of the LCFN

The history of the LCFN

On the 28.07.2017 we were celebrating the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Living Culture Namibia e.V. For the tenth time we have reason to celebrate and to look back on (more than) 10 years of project work in Namibia. Here we have put together a review of the events of the Living Museums and the Living Culture Foundation Namibia of the past 13 years.

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Voices from the Living Museums

Voices from the Living Museums

On the occasion of our 10th anniversary we asked the managers of the Living Museums to give a short statement on how they see the work in their Living Museum. Here are the answers:

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Winter donation for the Hunter’s Living Museum

Winter donation for the Hunter’s Living Museum

Brian Heyden, a tour operator from New Zealand who visits the Living Hunter’s Museum at /Xa//Oba annually, brought a special surprise for the villagers this year. He donated several bags of warm clothes, shoes and blankets to the Living Museum, ideal for the harsh winters of the northern Kalahari.

The New Zealand guests that went on a 3-week Namibia safari with Brian at the end of June bought all their camping equipment in Windhoek due to logistical reasons. After their visit at the Hunter’s Living Museum which the New Zealanders more than enjoyed, they decided to donate the complete equipment to the Bushmen after their tour.

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A very special bush walk

A very special bush walk

Around midday we left the Living Museum towards the west to participate on a bushwalk together with the bushmen of the Living Hunter’s Museum. Although having been already several times on such a bushwalk with the San, every single time it is a wonderful, relaxing and exciting activity during which one is taken back to old times and one can imagine how the old bush life must have felt like. Thoughts start to wander. The stress and the everyday life seem far away and one starts to concentrate only on the essential things: But be aware of your steps, snakes, scorpions and other small animals are dangerous to step on. Now and then one of the San women discovered something special, e.g. Dchun (Walleria Nutans), which taste like old potatoes (that’s why they are called bush potatoes), the succulent root named “!ai!ai” (Raphionacme Velutina), which is essential for the old San’s survival or a sisal plant, known as “Oryx horn” or “Mother-in-law tongue”, which is used to make strings and ropes.

The almost meditative bushwalk had been constantly accompanied by lively conversations amongst the San. Often we stopped to analyze tracks of wild animals; we dug, picked and plucked. Suddenly a loud yelling and cheering, at first we thought a wild animal has jumped out of a bush. But no – one of the elder ladies jumped under a bush and started digging and revealed a small brown tuber.

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Dr. Ralf Kühn visits the Mbunza Museum

Dr. Ralf Kühn visits the Mbunza Museum

At the end of February 2017 I had again the possibility, together with friends from Germany, to visit the Living museum of the Mbunza very close to Rundu. Since the opening in 2012 it is my third time already. Immediately I recognized how structured and organized the visits of tourists are handled, how much effort Sebron and the colleagues of the museum put into imparting knowledge and to really show the very specifics of the ethnicity of the Mbunza on the Okavango river.

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Ovahimba Living Museum Opening

Ovahimba Living Museum Opening

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!

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Living Museum of the Ovahimba to open soon

Living Museum of the Ovahimba to open soon

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.

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2. project meeting in the Ovahimba Living Museum

05_Museum_Setting

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.

Project report from Sebastian Dürrschmidt

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New Ovahimba project

Omungunda-Meeting

On our project tour at the beginning of September, the LCFN was able to present the concept of the Living Museums to a group of Ovahimba in the north of the country. This marks the first step towards the establishment of a Living Museum.

Project report by Sebastian Dürrschmidt

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Call for donations

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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. 

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