This book is a highly innovative and courageously fresh approach in the anthropology of Namibia. A project organised in a mutual effort by professional and experienced anthropologists from abroad and local activists with a deeply felt and sincere interest in the inner workings of their own society has convincingly managed to break new ground. The title “Living together” is very well chosen. Whereas still most ethnographic accounts deal with single ethnic communities, here the focus is set on shared experiences of everyday life. Chapters e.g. on marriage, descent and food sharing show that many aspects social organisation and culture are indeed shared between ethnic communities. Damara, Nama and Herero are one society and in many respects share one culture! The book challenges anthropologists and urges them to shed more light on the social and cultural dynamics of sharing across ethnic boundaries in future. Here anthropology has an important role to play in that it may deconstruct the agendas of those who play the ‘ethnic card’ for their own selfish ends. This first book of the Fransfontein Oral History Project powerfully underlines that most aspects of life – from birth to death so to say – are shared between all inhabitants of Fransfontein and the wider Fransfontein region. The project is remarkable in another perspective: it is local people who describe their livelihoods, their culture, their history; and they do so in convincing words and in a clear language. In their contributions they directly address fellow Namibians and probably other citizens of Fransfontein. There message is clear and powerful: if trees never meet, people do and have done so for many, many years. There is so much these people share that even bodies – due to mixed descent – give evidence of shared lives. All attempts at separating them, is artificial and strategic.

Prof. Dr. Michael Bollig
Institute of Social Anthropology
University of Cologne

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