UTUSEB – Construction of a cultural centre for the Topnaar community commenced last week in the Utuseb settlement about 90km from Walvis Bay.
During a recent visit to the Topnaar community Topnaar Chief Seth Kooitjie told New Era he is relieved the much anticipated centre that has been in the pipeline for the past two years has finally taken off. He explained that the cultural centre that will cost about N$4.5 million is being bankrolled by the Namibian German Special Initiative Programme (NGSIP). Kooitjie said the centre will consist of a set of bungalows for overnight guests and tourists, a kiosk, a community hall, traditional court, a camp for festivals, the chief’s traditional house, an administration block, as well as ablution facilities. The construction of the centre is expected to be completed by November. “Once completed the centre will assist the Topnaars in preserving their own culture, promote local tourism and in the same vein uplift the livelihood of the Topnaar community. We have also sent some of our people to undertake courses that will be beneficial to the whole community and the tourism sector. These are all efforts by us to enhance the living standard of our people,” Kooitjie explained
He went on to say the centre would be self-sustaining and would employ its own staff. “The centre should not become a white elephant as it would be responsible to generate funds from its own programmes, because it will be in charge of the day to day operations, as well as the salaries of those employed at the centre,” Kooitjie said. Also speaking to New Era at the construction site the national director of the Rural People Institute of Social Empowerment (RISE Namibia), Pintile Davids said they will facilitate capacity building for the Topnaars so that the centre does not become a white elephant. “The capacity building will allow us to enhance the centre by means of preserving the culture and norms of the Topnaar community, as well as their overall history. It will also be home to a living museum whereby visitors and tourists will have first hand experience on the culture of the Topnaars. It will also be used for community gatherings and other major events that will take place at the settlement.” According to Davids, Rise is a non-governmental organisation involved in rural and community development. The organisation was established in 1987 and has ever since been involved in rural micro-financing, livestock grant programmes, community gardening, bakery projects for women and sewing among others.
By Eveline de Klerk