By Wezi Tjaronda
Up to 500 people are expected at Keetmanshoop for the centenary celebrations of Karakul farming in Namibia.
The Karakul Board of Namibia earlier this year launched a series of events to celebrate the centenary and also to pay tribute to people that contributed to the Karakul industry over the past 100 years.
The activities, which started with a trip by karakul farmers to witness a Swakara auction, culminate in a series of events including a parade and unveiling of a karakul statue in Keetmanshoop, a street festival, launch of a Swakara memorial book and a gala dinner for about 500 guests.
Other activities include the Karakul Producers Forum meeting, a partner’s event for spouses and partners of producers and a producers’ competition award.
The unveiling of the statue will be officiated by Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Dr Nickey Iyambo.
Cristina Salvoldi, a 23-year-old sculptor, designed and sculpted the two-metre statue, which portrays a Nama shepherd holding a newborn Karakul lamb, and a fully-grown ram standing next to the shepherd.
Brenda Bravenboer with Berndt von Kunow as special adviser authors the book, ‘Karakul – Gift from the Arid Land’. It documents the history of Karakul in Namibia, their origin, how they came to Namibia, their status today and the development of the industry in general.
Yesterday, Karakul schools that participated in the Karas regional school competition received their awards. Also featuring on the programme for the celebrations is a spring elite Karakul ram auction to be held at the Keetmanshoop show grounds.
The first 10 Karakul ewes and 10 rams from central Asia via Germany arrived in then South West Africa on September 24 1907 to make what is today one of the largest and finest flocks in the world.
Earlier in April, a DVD documenting the history of Karakul in Namibia, its advanced record keeping, and breeding practices that formed that backbone of the Black Diamond industry in Namibia since 1907, was launched.
This year in the Karakul industry also marks the 40th anniversary of the Swakara trademark, the 88th year of the Karakul Breeders Association, the 25th anniversary of the Karakul Board of Namibia, 27th anniversary of Agra and 18 years of the Agra pelt-sorting centre in Windhoek.
This year, the Karakul Producers Forum celebrated its 10th anniversary while the cooperation with Copenhagen Fur is in its 12th year.
Namibia at present has between 700 and 800 Karakul producers.