Sustainabilities and Cultural Landscapes in West Namibia
The Future Pasts Trust
An outcome of Future Pasts research with members of the Hoanib Cultural Group in Sesfontein and their families, is an initiative to establish a small Trust in Namibia
“to support activities related to Khoe (Damara-||Ubun-Nama) cultural heritage continuation and vitalisation in Sesfontein settlement and Sesfontein Conservancy” (Future Pasts Trust Deed).
The initial Trustees of this Future Pasts Trust are:
Welhemina Suro Ganuses (Future Pasts, Save the Rhino Trust Namibia)
Fredrick ||Hawaxab (Namidaman Traditional Authority)
Bernades ||Hoëb (Sesfontein Conservancy)
Jeff Muntifering (Save the Rhino Trust)
Sian Sullivan (Future Pasts)
We are in the process of finalising legal registration of the Trust.
Through the Future Pasts project, as well as work for a recent national review of indigenous and marginalised peoples in Namibia led by the Legal Assistance Centre in Windhoek, in 2019 the Hoanib Cultural Group was supported to return to a place significant to their elderly members, to play their |gais praise songs and arus healing dances there. A film of this first ‘Kai-as Festival’ – The Music Returns to Kai-as – can be viewed here.
Fredrick ||Hawaxab of the Namidaman Traditional Authority in Sesfontein writes of this film that:
"It's really amazing and quite frankly it's also tearful for those that know and understands |gais and arus in detail... the sound quality and film quality is very excellent. Thanks for your commitment and time spent on developing the film of this quality. Kai-aios [Thank you]." (7 December 2020)
Longer film sequences of material culture and the full performance of |gais dances shared in this event are currently in preparation.
Inspired by this collaborative cultural heritage and memory work, the core aims of the Future Pasts Trust are now to:
Support the sustenance, performance and inter-generational transmission of cultural heritage activities by the Hoanib Cultural Group and associated families
Gather funds for the construction of a small centre in Sesfontein where research materials, images, recordings and cultural objects for this area can be housed for the benefit of future generations. As Future Pasts collaborator Welhemina Suro Ganuses from Sesfontein says,
"my dream that I had for many years is to build up a museum at Sesfontein for the future generations – so that the future generations can see how the people were living in the past, how they eat, sleep, and what they use ..." (25 May 2019)
These concerns have become even more pressing as the impacts of COVID-19 are felt in the tourism, conservation and heritage sectors across Namibia.
If you would like to support the Hoanib Cultural Group, their families and the resilience of their cultural knowledge, please get in touch here.
 Sullivan, S. and Ganuses, W.S. 2020 Understanding Damara / ≠Nūkhoen and ǁUbun indigeneity and marginalisation in Namibia, pp. 283-324 in Odendaal, W. and Werner, W. (eds.) ‘Neither Here Nor There’: Indigeneity, Marginalisation and Land Rights in Post-independence Namibia. Windhoek: Land, Environment and Development Project, Legal Assistance Centre.
This work has been praised by Gaob ||Garoëb, the Paramount Leader of ≠Nūkhoen, as reported here.
 COVID-19 has brought severe disruptions to tourism dependent livelihoods throughout Namibia, including Kunene Region, where at the time of writing (Decemebr 2020) cases of the virus are on the rise. For more information on some of the impacts on community-based conservation across the country in the early months of the pandemic see Lendelvo, S., Mechtilde, P. and Sullivan, S. 2020 A perfect storm? COVID-19 and community-based conservation in Namibia. Namibian Journal of Environment 4(B): 1-15, summarised in the Conservation Namibia blog here.