The Cultural Village in Tsumeb is an open-air museum aimed at promoting various Namibian cultures to local residents and tourists. The full name of the museum is Helvi Mpingana Condombolo Cultural Village. It was opened to the public in September 1997 by Susan Ndingwa, former Mayor in Tsumeb. Prior to this, Ndingwa had visited Glomdalsmuseet in Elverum (Norway) and was inspired by how folk museums in Norway have been used to foster awareness of regional culture and strengthen belonging to the Norwegian nation. The Tsumeb Elder believed Cultural Village in Tsumeb could have a role to play in promoting cultural diversity in Namibia and strengthen the unity of belonging to the newly independent nation. The Namibia Association of Norway (NAMAS) and other institutions provided support to realise the museum.
The revitalization project
The overall aim of the project is to revitalize the open-air museum. The focus is on three components; Restoration of the traditional homesteads, developing and formalising governing documents, and establish a basic level of information to support self-guided visits. Tsumeb municiaplity is the owner of the museum and has been responsible for executing the project locally. The project is safeguarded by the Museums Association of Namibia in collaboration with the Glomdal museum (Anno museum). The project is primarily funded by Innlandet County Municipality (former Hedmark County Municipality), and is a part of their international cooperation with the Oshikoto region in Namibia.
Restoration of homesteads
Since 2019 Tsumeb Municpality have worked closely with local stakeholders and representatives of ethnic groups to restore and rebuild several of the eleven different homesteads. In some cases, it has been possible to pursue traditional materials and methods, but in most cases, a mix between traditional materials and modern techniques is necessary. The project has pursued a principle of inclusion and participation, and allowed local stakeholders of ethnic communities to take part in shaping the homesteads they feel relevant to them. Instead of presenting a generalised building style and social life from a particular point in time, the project has allowed for local interpretations of what each homestead should represent from Damara, Himba, Oshiwambo, Kavango, Zambezi (former Caprivi), Hai//om (San), Herero, !Khun (San), Tswana, Nama, and Afrikaner. The fact that the open-air museum is significantly influenced by local stakeholders makes the whole museum unique. The museum is in touch with current practices and the intangible heritage among contemporary Namibians. The restoration processes have been documented by the municipality, through notes, photographs, and interviews.
The Museums Association of Namibia have provided vital support in establishing a formalised set of governing documents, through workshops, drafting documents, and seeing the final version signed by the Tsumeb Municipality. The process also involves establishing an advisory board, to provide guidance and safeguarding of the museum as a formal institution.
Finally the project involves establishing physical signs in the open-air museum, to help visitors to navigate, and to accompany each homesteads with a descriptive text writtin in two languages.
Namibian Heritage Week
Namibian Heritage Week is an annual national event organised by the Namibian Heritage Week Team. Tsumeb Municipality has pursued this opprtunity each year to communicate the project, to bring life to the Cultural Village, and celebrate local and regional Namibian culture.
In addition to hard working volunteers and stakeholders in Tsumeb and other parts of the Oshikoto region, the following people and institutions are involved in coordinating and administering the project:
Stella Imalwa – Tsumeb Municipality
Wilma Shilamba – Tsumeb Municipality
Ndapewoshali Ashipala – Museums Association of Namibia
Tuuda Haitula – Museums Association of Namibia
Sigurd Nielsen - Glomdalsmuseet, Anno museum
Jan Hoff Jørgensen - Glomdalsmuseet, Anno museum
Mostafa Pourbayat - Innlandet County Municipality
For questions about the project
in Norway: email@example.com