The newly-appointed National Heritage Council members have been told to undertake regional visits to identify Namibia’s unknown heritages, with the aim to document such places and objects.
The Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Katrina Hanse-Himarwa, who appointed 15 new National Heritage Council members yesterday, said Namibia is rich in terms of heritages that many people do not know exist. Currently Namibia has 119 sites that have been declared as national heritage sites, many of which are natural heritage sites, and these include Twyvelfontein, Brandberg and the Petrified Forest.
On the world stage, as of 2006, there are 830 world heritage sites – 644 cultural, 162 natural, and 24 mixed properties, in 138 countries.
Namibia enjoys a wealth of international tourist traffic, a significant portion of which is attributed to interest in natural heritage sites.
The National Heritage Council is uniquely placed to serve people through the establishment of conservancies that allow local communities to enjoy the benefits of tourism, while helping bring revenue into the nation’s coffers.
According to her, every historical site and object has an important story to tell – a story that “connects us to our past”.
Further, she said, newly appointed members are the custodians of the rich heritage and culture of Namibia and they are thus mandated to ensure that these treasures are preserved and protected for future generations.
“Understanding where our roots lie, gives us a sense of identity and helps us to strive towards a prosperous future,” she noted.
The National Heritage Council was established by an Act of Parliament, Act 27 of 2004. It is responsible for providing for the protection and conservation of places and objects of heritage significance, the registration of such places and objects and to establish a national heritage register.
“We don’t want to appoint a council that becomes dormant. I want to see an active, vibrant and energetic council that understands its roles and responsibilities. We want a council that can bring us tangible results and inject new ideas to improve heritage assets. Our country is rich – as much as financial resources are a challenge, I urge you to go into regions and find what we never knew is our heritage,” she urged.
The council chairperson is Dr Bennett Kangumu, deputised by Elizabeth Kharixus.
The minister also urged council members to educate, and create awareness among, the public on what a heritage is all about and how they can benefit from such assets.
Moreover, she said, the council is tasked with providing good corporate governance and oversight to ensure that the activities of the secretariat culminate in the attainment of the strategic goals and objectives contained in the two-year operational plan of the National Heritage Council, a plan that is aligned to Namibia’s Vision 2030.
“I implore you to incorporate the pillars of the Harambee Prosperity Plan as a matter of urgency. I call upon you to ensure that the functions of the council are performed according to the highest professional standards and that you take fiduciary duties as council members in a very serious light,” she encouraged.
The Harambee Prosperity Plan pillars are effective governance, economic development, social progression, infrastructure development and international relations and cooperation.