By Frederick Philander
“It is a fact that Namibia as a semi-arid country is extremely vulnerable to the effects of global warming and climate change in general. For that reason we have to make an extra effort to save and preserve our unique environment and our proclaimed areas.”
This was said by the Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism, Leon Jooste, when on Tuesday evening he officially opened an exhibition titled “In the Shade of the Acacia. Research in Africa Deserts” at the National Art Gallery.
At the same occasion a book, Living Together, was launched.
“The acacia research project and the exhibition help us discover unknown aspects of savannahs and deserts with some of the most vulnerable habitats on earth. It also shows us how Africans, and in particular Namibians, have lived in these conditions, which include surviving, living, trading and housing that were adjusted by humans,” Jooste said.
The exhibition explains how mankind in various parts of Africa displayed a remarkable capacity to adapt to their unstable and sometimes harsh environment.
“Today these qualities are becoming increasingly important as our environment is more than ever under stress through global warming and climate change. We have to rediscover and interpret the signs how humans in arid parts of the African continent were and are capable, of monitoring and changing their habits and strategies to survive in an unstable environment,” said Jooste, who encouraged learners to see the exhibition currently on display.
The deputy minister mentioned the community of Fransfontein as a typical example of multi-ethnicity.
“The people of Fransfontein share many beliefs and practices. Those similarities can be observed in common marriage rituals, shared healing knowledge and similar food customs. Through intermarriages and living together in a common place the inhabitants started sharing norms, values and cultural practices,” he said.
With regard to the publication of the book, Living Together, Francois Dawids on behalf of the community of Fransfontein said that the project has irreversibly changed the lives of his people.
“The book Living Together is a reflection of the history and culture that we have shared for generations, learning to share the same customs and traditions. The project has also very positively contributed towards the standards of the local community with regard to employment of the youth and elderly people,” Dawids said of the project that was financed by the German Research Council.