|The team: Otto, Julia, Titus, Francois, Michael (standing), Fiona, Jorries (sitting)|
My name is Francois Dawids. I am writing to you from a very small place called Fransfontein, Namibia. It is so small that, on a typical map, you might not even recognize it, with a population not exceeding 700 residents. It is classified as a settlement, the lowest class that a place can be classified as, just one level above a farm.
It is a very rich little place; rich in the sense that it has an abundance of water flowing from the local fountains (the name Fransfontein itself derived from the fountain that flow so abundantly), the rich history and culture left by the ancestors of this small place, and rich in the sense that many different ethnic-groups have lived here, amongst others, the Namas, the Damaras and the Hereros. My focus will be mainly on these three groups of people. These groups of people have lived side-by-side all these years, and this has caused an interlinking between these groups of people, causing them to inter-marry and bear children from each other.
The elders that are still with us today always say the same thing; ´In those days, we did not know the difference between us, between being a Nama or a Damara or a Herero, because our elders used to live side by side, without these prejudices you young people have today, we used to drink from the same fountain, if I (a Nama) committed a prank, the Damara elders would punish me.´
They go even further by saying;´These old people used to co-operate, a (dark-in-complexion) Damara-child would say ´ma-ro´ (young-mother) to a (light-in-complexion)Nama-lady, or a Nama-child would say ´da-kai´ (older-father) to a Damara-man, without even noticing the difference in skin-colour.´ Writing this, I think back to the International Rock-Art Conference that I attended with two of my colleagues, who are also authors of this book, Otto and Jorries, in our capital, Windhoek in April 2004. Here, we presented our findings on doing research into genealogy, a project with Dr. Schnegg and Dr. Pauli.
As we were standing outside (prior to our presentation on Genealogy and Family-Histories) exchanging some thoughts with some colleagues from Uis, an ore-rich town on the coast-line of Namibia, who were also there to present the Brandberg Rock-Art Project, they were boasting about their ethnicity, what tribes they are from etc. After our presentation, observing the inter-linking of marriages by the ancestors showcased by our presentation, these colleagues came to our table after the presentation and remarked; ´Truly, your presentation has shown us that you cannot easily claim that you are from a specific tribe/ origin, but that we must only pursue a sense of unity in all mankind, because, like it or not, we are all somehow connected to each other.´
It is always this special kind of connection or inter-linking, that has fascinated me about this particular project. The way the different structures/ families would gradually come together. I know a lot of different people in Fransfontein, but I did not know they were inter-linked as such, until I have come to join this project. This always signified a sense of magic for me, with the magic-wand being the computer that I work on, and the magic occurring whenever I would enter the specific data into the database, causing the special program on which I was working, to automatically re-arrange the data, that is; conjoining the different individuals into their respective family-trees.
This has taught me to always learn about your history, because, as the famous saying goes; “If you know where you are coming from, you will know where you are going to.”
First and foremost, I would like to thank God for creating a person such as me. Secondly, I would like to thank my beautiful wife, Erine Namaku for supporting me during this time, for the love and the patience extended toward me.
Also, I would like to extend the sincerest of gratitudes for the two people who have accorded me this opportunity, who have believed in me, who have shown their support toward me through and through, and who I have come to accept as my adoptive parents, for the love and patience and encouragement they have shown me, and they are; Dr´s Michael Schnegg and Julia Pauli. They are the ones responsible for the positive attitude that I have come to adopt in my life.
Many thanks also go to the folks from the Jutta-Vogel-Stiftung, for also believing in us, the whole team, and thus supporting us, be it financially or materialistically, to successfully complete this project. You have made our dreams come true.
My colleagues, Otto, Jorries, Titus and Fiona, thank you for being such a cooperative group, supporting, advising, reprimanding where necessary, you guys have shown that team-work is the best to achieve a common goal.
Last but not least, I would also like to express many thanks to the people from Fransfontein, and also the surrounding farms, for always welcoming us generously into your houses. Only your patience and cooperation could allow us to successfully complete these very difficult, yet fun and informative tasks.
My name is Fiona Ilonga. I have also been given a Herero house name by my elders, which is “Inambura”. This means “mother of the rain”. I was born on 24.11.1967 at Mopanie-pos, which is situated about 7km east of Fransfontein. For the past ten years, I am involved in a relationship with Titus Kaumunika, who is also a co-author of this book. I have four children, two sons and two daughters. Titus is the father of my last born, a boy, by the name of Dawid “Ikuaterua” Kaumunika. The name Dawid, as you will read in the book, was given by our dear friend, Dr. Michael Schnegg.
This project has been very positive to me in a great many ways. I really enjoyed working with the people I have worked with. I have also learned a lot about the different cultures in our area.
Although I belong to the Herero/Owambo group of people, I have learned that there are many similarities between all the many groups present here. Through interviewing people for my research, I have also made many friends among the various groups. I have also learned that my skills as an entrepreneur are very important to many people, from all the different groups.
My part-time profession, before the project, has been making and selling traditional beauty products and farming. Thus, the project has really helped me to support my family efficiently, with the allowance I have been earning from it. I especially would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Michael Schnegg and Dr. Julia Pauli, who have made all this possible for us, and also the folks at Jutta Vogel Stiftung. Also, many, many thanks to my colleagues for their assistance and advice during the project.
(with Titus Kaumunika) Herewith, we would like to give a word of thanks to the community of Fransfontein who assisted us in writing this book and also to our fellow team-members, with whom we have worked together during the compilation of this booklet, for their views, criticism and for sharing ideas with us.
My name is Titus “Venepiko” Kaumunika, and I was born on 30.12.1967 in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia. The name “Venepiko”, which is a Herero-word, means “naughty”.
For the past ten years, I am involved in a relationship with the mother of my fourth and last born son, Dawid “Ikuaterua” Kaumunika. I have also two other sons and one daughter. My mother is a Damara woman and my father a Herero. My father’s grandfather was a German called Rheinhardt. Growing up at a place called Ondamekondo, situated approximately 45 km east of Okahandja in the Ovitoto-reserve, my duties as a young boy was to look after our livestock. Here, I was raised strictly according to the norms and values of my father’s family, that’s why today I know so much about our culture and respect it. In our culture, as I was raised, you have to respect all elder people, irrespective of their race, creed or culture.
Today, I am a respected farmer myself, farming at a farm called Mopanie-pos, situated about 7km east of Fransfontein. Part-time, I am also studying traditional herbs and plants. Through research for this project, I have even broadened my knowledge of these things, and would like to thank Dr. Schnegg and Dr. Pauli for equipping us with the skills. Also thanks to the Jutta Vogel Stiftung for their allowance of the project. The project has also helped me in forming friendships and taught me to work as a team, to learn about cultures other than mine and has also improved my English vocabulary. I can also now support my family through the funds I receive from the project. The writing of this book will also make me famous, and I am looking forward to reading our efforts.
I would like to thank the farmers who really assisted me in completing this research. Also, I would like to extend my most heartfelt gratitude to my “comrade in arms”, Ms. Eliro Phillips, for her advice and input on medical plants and traditional healing, and also to the elders who have extended this knowledge unto me. Also thanks to my colleagues for their support. Together with Eliro Phillips I am writing a book on traditional medicine. The book will not only be on the use of trees but also includes information on different animals, reptiles, and the dung from animals.
(with Fional Ilonga) Herewith, we would like to give a word of thanks to the community of Fransfontein who assisted us in writing this book and also to our fellow team-members, with whom we have worked together during the compilation of this booklet, for their views, criticism and for sharing ideas with us.
Dr. Julia Pauli & Dr. Michael Schnegg
Michael Schnegg and Julia Pauli are both social anthropologists. Michael Schnegg was born in 1971. He has received a MA in social anthropology, sociology and history from the University of Cologne, Germany in 1998, and a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Hamburg in 2003. At the moment, he is assistant professor at the University of Hamburg. Julia Pauli was born in 1970. She has received an MA in social anthropology, German literature and film science from the University of Cologne in 1995 and a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cologne in 1999. Julia Pauli holds a position as a senior lecturer at the University of Cologne. Both have done long-term ethnographic field-research in different villages in rural Mexico. Since 2003 they are working for the German ACACIA project. Together with their daughter Liliana they have lived in Fransfontein for more than 20 months, starting in 2003.
For all their support we want to thank the community of Fransfontein and all surrounding farms. It has been both an honour and a privilege to participate in the everyday life of the Fransfontein people. Special thanks go to our co-authors Fiona Ilonga, Francois Dawids, Titus Kaumunika, Otto /Uirab and Jorries Seibeb. It has been a pleasure to work with them on this project and on other research projects before. During our absence Francois Dawids has done a great job in coordinating the research and writing activities. His dedication to the project has been very crucial. During our time in Fransfontein many people have assisted us. Here, space only allows to mention and thank those people who worked with us during different research activities: Goldine !Ases, Ivonne /Goagoses, Gideon /Goagoseb, Dina /Goagoses, Alexia Gertze, Elly Gertze, Friederika Kana //Gowases, Rheinhardt Haraeb, Sara Jod, Perpetina Jod, Hubert Kahono, Valery Meyer, Ferdinand /Nanubeb, Brigitha Pietersen, Maria Philips, Emma /Uiras and Lydia /Uiras. Different local official institutions have been very supportive as well. We would especially like to thank the staff of the Frans Frederik Primary School, the local government, the traditional authorities and the church elders. Tara DiTommaso has been empathetic and enthusiastic for our research. Also in Namibia, we would like to thank Beatrice Sandelowsky, Christo Botha, Ben Fuller and Werner Hillebrecht for their help and support.
Francois Dawids, Otto /Uirab and Jorries Seibeb’s successful presentation of some of our joint work at the conference ‘A Homecoming of Rock Art’ in April 2005 in Windhoek, organized by our ACACIA colleague Tilman Lenssen-Erz, was an important impetus for the further development of our project. Encouraged by the wider interest we applied for additional funding at the Jutta-Vogel-Foundation, Cologne, Germany, which was granted in April 2006. This enabled us to keep the joint research activities going and enlarge our research team by Titus Kaumunika and Fiona Ilonga. We want to thank Tilman Lenssen-Erz and the Jutta-Vogel-Foundation for their substantial and significant support. A colleague established the contact with William Christopher Cooper, whom we would like to thank for his fast and excellent copy editing work. Another ACACIA colleague, Larissa Förster, helped with transporting information. During many discussions and one field visit Hartmut Lang and Cornelia Limpricht encouraged and supported our work. Our research is part of the Special Research Project 389 ACACIA (Arid Climate, Adaptation and Cultural Innovation in Africa) that is financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG). We want to thank ACACIA and the DFG for their support. Michael Bollig, head of the ACACIA project, has supported and encouraged us throughout all phases of our research. For his inspiring enthusiasm, support and knowledge we are very thankful.
My name is Joseph Seibeb, most commonly known as Jorries. I was born on 23 January 1966 at a farm called Konob-pos near Fransfontein in Namibia. I am the first born of my mother. The farm is traditionally known as //Gam-o-!nâb in my language, which means “without water.” My late grandfather, Josef “Outa Mîhe” //Naobeb, was a /Gai-o dama, and my grandmother, Rosalia, maiden name Seibes, was a !Oe-#gâ. My parents are Jonathan /Narib who is a #Ao-dama and my mother Olga //Naobes is from the /Gai-o dama.
I married in the Pentecostal church named Ebben Esser. My wife’s name is Magdalena, maiden name //Hoeses. I have five children. I am a farmer myself, and hereby create an income to make funds available to support my family.
The Fransfontein History Project, facilitated by the Jutta Vogel Stiftung and the University of Cologne Drs. Michael Schnegg and Julia Pauli, has served as an eye opener for the Fransfontein community. Through this project, we have learned to understand our past, the roots of our ancestry. And now, after understanding our past, we are enriched and equipped with the necessary survival skills to face the future. Personally, the project also let me understand the high degree of inter-linkages of different groups in Fransfontein and the surrounding areas. The way I understand it through the research I have done, is that the blood that runs in me as a Damara, is the same blood that runs in a Nama as well as a Herero.
First of all, I want to thank the community of Fransfontein and my fellow research team-members, who made it possible for me to gather all this crucial data. Without them, I would not have completed this task as successfully as I have done currently. Also, gratitude goes to the facilitators of this project, Dr. Michael Schnegg and Dr. Julia Pauli, and the institution, Jutta Vogel Stiftung, that assisted us financially to successfully complete this project.
A special thank you also goes to my wife and family for supporting me throughout this project, for the patience and love they have shown towards me during this period.
Charles O. /Uirab
I, Charles Williams Otto /Uirab, was born 38 years ago at a town called Kamanjab, because my parents were living there due to work commitments. My father, Dawid Frederick /Uirab, was a teacher, and had to move around a lot. The primary school at Kamanjab, DF /Uirab, is named after this great man. I regard family as very important, because it gives me direction in life. Due to this, I have also drawn-up a small booklet, called “Otto /Uirab’s Family Guideline”. I am happily married to Emmerencia Juanitha Manda /Uiras, maiden name Guriras. I have five children, four from my wife, Manda.
Having a National Diploma in Building Construction, Level 4, I am a professional builder. When I was young, it was very nice for me to make traditional houses. The part where we mixed the cow-dung and the clay-soil was always the nicest to me. We would dive in hands and feet to mix the dung and soil. Now that I am a professional bricklayer (and an adult, for that matter), I still enjoy playing, but this time with cement and sand. To make it short: “my business is my pleasure”.
I have learned a lot from this project, in the sense that I have matured as a writer. Now, I see the community, our traditions and cultures, other people, with a different eye, a more mature eye. In short, though we are so different in many other aspects, we also share the same norms and values. I believe that the end product of our hard work will be a positive step for the community at large, in the right direction.
A great number of people deserve special thanks for their contribution to this booklet. Thanks to all the people of Fransfontein who were able to give me wonderful information. Special thanks go to Grandmother Albertine ''Oumaro Bowe-Bowe'' Bowe for her contribution to the family-history. Thank you also, Abraham ''Teacher Bhamjee'' Hendricks for assisting me in putting ideas on paper. Thanks to Mama Salinde !Gaoses for her valuable information. Special thanks to Fiona Ilonga and Titus Kaumunika for their contributions to my chapters. To all the elders of our community, thank you very much and may God bless you. Many thanks to Drs Michael Schnegg and Julia Pauli for giving me a chance to write with them the chapters in this booklet. Also, many thanks to the Jutta Vogel Stiftung for believing in us and funding this project. Last but not least, many, many thanks to my colleagues, Francois, Jorries, Titus and Fiona. It was great working with you.