New Museum for Old Location

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By Francis Mukuzunga WINDHOEK The City of Windhoek plans to construct a new museum that will focus on the Old Location and the forced removals of people that took place under apartheid rule in Namibia in the periods before and after 1959. The museum, once complete, will be situated adjacent to the Old Location Cemetery. Although there had been a number of forced removals before this date, the year 1959 was the major milestone in the history of Namibia as people were moved in great numbers from the then Old Location to what was termed ‘Katutura’ in Otjiherero, or directly translated, “We have no place to stay” – still the current name. It was also after these events that the SWAPO liberation movement was formed. In a statement, the city fathers say they are appealing for people with any artefacts from that era to donate them to the museum or give them on a loan basis so that a temporary exhibition, scheduled for end November, could start off. “The idea is to portray the social, cultural and economic history of the people that lived in the Old Location before they moved to Katutura. The artefacts can be anything from old clothing, equipment, tools, utensils, manuscripts, notes, coins etc.,” said the statement. The Old Location made up areas around present-day Windhoek West and parts of Hochland Park. This is an area where most urban black African labourers settled when they migrated from rural areas in search of employment at the beginning of the last century. Because the Old Location offered panoramic views of the valleys below and was adjacent to the growing city of Windhoek, blacks were forcibly removed from these areas and whites given preference. An official with the City Council’s Department of Corporate Communication and Tourism, Manfred !Gaeb, told New Era that the idea behind the establishment of the museum was not about rubbing salt into old wounds but purely educational. “Many people are dying without knowing the history of the country and this is one of the ways of doing it. We want to create a recorded history from the people’s own perspective,” said !Gaeb. He said that people were free to suggest any other items for inclusion in the exhibition as long as the artifacts are from that era. The exhibition will be launched in time for the December 10 Heroes’ Day commemorations. Some mementos collected and used in the making of a film on the history of the liberation struggle and the biopic of Dr Sam Nujoma, ‘Where Others Wavered’ have also been donated for the cause. “At this stage, there is approval from the City of Windhoek for a museum just outside the Old Location cemetery. We are still in the planning stages and we are working with the National Archives, Heritage Council, National Museums, UNAM, the Polytechnic and other institutions and of course not forgetting the general public,’ !Gaeb explained. He urged members of the public to freely come forward to donate whatever artefacts they have and that City of Windhoek will not claim ownership of the goods but would rather sign up an agreement with them on a loan basis. So far, a sizeable number of items have been collected but more are needed. !Gaeb said the project is being supported by its twin city of Vantaa in Finland.