Historic Photographic Exhibition Planned

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By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK An historic and authentic photographic exhibition about life under apartheid 30 years ago is to be officially held in the country, it was yesterday agreed between the Speaker of the National Assembly and a Finnish parliamentarian. Dr Kimmo Kiljunen, a visiting Finnish ruling party MP, had indepth discussions about his unique historic photographic project with Speaker, Theo-Ben Gurirab. “My last visit to Namibia was in 1978, during which time I was declared persona non grata by the-then South African authorities for taking the pictures I intend exhibiting in Namibia as a token of appreciation for the people of this country,” said Dr Kimmo Kiljunen. He and Theo-Ben Gurirab had a lengthy discussion on the good relations that exist between Finland and Namibia. “This is my first visit after 1978 – a dream that has come true for me after all these years during which time I took clandestine photos and did research for a book, The Last African Colony. In view of the fact that the 30th anniversary of Cassinga will be appropriately commemorated next year, I intend doing the exhibition to coincide with it,” said Kiljunen, speaking passionately about the project. In formally accepting the proposal for the exhibition, Speaker Theo-Ben Gurirab said other people will also be invited to contribute photographic material. “I vividly remember 1978 as a very memorable year when the Cassinga massacre in which many people died, took place and Resolution 435 was accepted, the way forward for Namibia’s independence. I was in the thick of things at the United Nations at the time,” said Gurirab. According to Kiljunen, a social-democrat, the existing relations between Namibia and Finland are excellent, thanks to the historic value the Finns attach to it. “It is important that historic Namibian things need to be preserved for the future, and in this the Finnish Embassy will assist as far as possible with the setting-up of such an exhibition, which will be to the benefit of Namibia,” said Finnish ChargÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© d’Affaires, Seija Kinni-Huttunen, who accompanied the visitor. Inspired by the idea of such an historic photographic exhibition, Gurirab proposed the establishment of a “Friend of Finland” organization. “I foresee Namibian members of parliament elected to serve on such a committee to ensure an exchange of ideas and the sharing of experiences between our two countries during exchange visits. Students can also benefit through such a committee. The committee will keep open communication channels for all to benefit,” the Speaker said. Kiljunen found the proposal an acceptable idea, which he will submit to his political colleagues in his motherland. “We must just work out the mechanics of such a committee, which can serve as a direct link with Finnish visitors to Namibia. Such a committee will enable visitors to Namibia to make contact with the ‘right’ people in the country,” said Kiljunen, who announced that a selected group of Namibian politicians would visit his country later this month to observe the Finnish general elections on March 18. An official visit to Finland by President Hifikepunye Pohamba this month had to be postponed because of the elections in that country, Seija Kinni-Huttunen officially announced at the same occasion.