The Use of Art during the Liberation Struggle

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK AN exhibition exploring the use of Arts during the Namibian liberation struggle to show sthe way in which both sides of the conflict attempted to win over the hearts and minds of people in support of their goals. It is general knowledge that the use of arts in Namibia during the liberation struggle was primarily focused and concentrated on music, whereas the South African struggle focused on all art disciplines and forms to free the people from the yoke of colonialism. The exhibition, aptly titled Images at War: Art in the Liberation Struggle, is to be officially opened tonight by a former deputy minister of Basic Education, Hadino Hishongwa, at the John Muafangego Arts Centre in Katutura. According to a press release, this particular exhibition is being facilitated by the Museum Association of Namibia, but has been curated by a working group consisting of students at JMAC and the History Department at UNAM. “The exhibition marks the second phase of a collaborative project with the University of Basle in Switzerland. The first phase saw two Namibian students and two members of the working group travelling abroad to work with Swiss students, who will be present at tonight’s official opening of the exhibition,” said the chairperson of the exhibition’s working group, Martha Akawa, in the press statement. The exhibition will be on display until 5 September in Katutura and will hopefully also depict and fully highlight the contributions artists, who remained in Namibia during the liberation struggle, made during the dark years of oppression and colonization. “However, it has been designed as a mobile exhibition hopefully to be taken to other venues in the regions. The exhibition coincides with the commemoration of Heroes Day tomorrow. The exhibition will not only provide an interesting perspective on the history of the liberation struggle and young peoples’ perceptions of it today, but will also give an insight into the work of Namibian artists whose contributions and names may be forgotten by many today,” Martha Akawa said. It’s a fact that many Namibian artists and their aspirations had been forcefully suppressed and denied during the colonial period. Many of those who survived have never been fully compensated for their painful sacrifices and creative contributions to the Namibian liberation struggle. Most South African and Zimbabwean progressive artists during the liberation struggle had been duly compensated in one form or other. It is hoped that this exhibition will conjure up the same sentiments to which so many neglected Namibian artists have been aspiring since Independence.