By Chris Low
In May 2019 I wound up my Future Pasts research by heading back to the Sorris Sorris and Sesfontein Conservancies with the aim of locating those who took part in the early stages of my research and giving each of them one or more DVDs containing films and other research material in which each individual contributed. For some I also distributed copies of photographs taken by a professional photographer, Sylvia Diez, who accompanied me on a visit to Sorris Sorris and Sesfontein in 2016 and whose photographs from this journey contributed to the project exhibition Future Pasts: Landscape, Memory and Music in West Namibia curated in Bath, UK (2017) and Swakopmund, Namibia (2019).
The DVDs contain recordings of Damara / ≠Nūkhoen telling stories, principally about Haiseb the trickster folk hero. They also provide documentation of members of Sorris Sorris and Sesfontein demonstrating the cultural shows and tours they are developing to both keep their traditions alive and engage with tourists.
It took about four days to locate everyone. Where it was not possible to contact an individual directly I left DVDs with their family members who promised to deliver them. All individuals contacted seemed pleased to receive the media material. It was particularly rewarding handing over hard copy photographs with the DVDs because the benefit appeared immediate, but I was also around long enough for a number of recipients to test their DVDs and to see how delighted they were to watch them.
I am particularly grateful to John Taniseb, a Dâures / Brandberg mountain guide who helped me with translation and locating the individuals, as he had done on previous occasions.
Kai aios / Thank you to everyone involved!
Hanna |Awaras (R), leader of cultural group in Sorris Sorris, with John Taniseb (L), Dâures / Brandberg guide.
Sesfontein, with members of the Hoanib Cultural Group:
All photos by Chris Low.