By Anastasia Paulus
WINDHOEK – The small town of Usakos occupies a unique spot in the Namibian history. Situated on the banks of Khan River, and on the verge of the Namib Desert, the town was founded in 1900 as watering stop for locomotive between Swakopmund and Tsumeb.
Despite its historical importance, Usakos like other small towns in Namibia falls into economic decline.
However, the Usakos Town Council in conjunction with other stakeholders have found a glimmer of hope to revive the outback town.
They have launched a mobile photographic exhibition that has since generated lot of interests in Africa and overseas.
After making stops in South Africa, the exhibition titled: “Usakos: Photographs beyond Ruins.
The Old Location Albums, 1920s to 1960s” last week made a stopover in, Mozambique.
It was launched at the Portuguese Cultural Centre in Maputo on July 6, while a similar version is being shown in Europe.
The mobile exhibition features a collection of old photographs by four residents of the town – all women. These are Cecilie //Geises, Wilhelmine Katjimune, Gisela Pieters and Olga //Garoës.
The photographs capture ordinary life at Usakos during the colonial period, before people were forcefully removed from the centre of town and divided between the new `Black’ township of Hakhaseb and Coloured township of Erongosig.
The historical pictures are complimented by photographs by Paul Grendon that reflect Usakos today and the traces of the past in the ruins.
The mobile exhibition is part of the municipality vision to transform their old building into Usakos Museum when the council relocates to new premises.
“I believe that this exhibition has generated a lot of interest in the unique history of our town. When we complete the museum project, I believe that the museum will be an agent of change for development.
“It will encourage visitors to stop in Usakos and, so, create job opportunities. Perhaps, more importantly, it will help strengthen our residents’ pride in their community and give us hope for the future,” said Saara Ilovu, the town’s local economic development officer.
The mobile exhibition is a collaborative effort of the Usakos Town Council, the Museums Association of Namibia, the University of Basel, the University of Namibia and District Six Museum.
After its world tour, the exhibition will be handed over to the Museums Association of Namibia. Namibians will have a chance to view the exhibition that will be launched by UNAM on August 23.
It will be followed by a week long winter school on exhibition planning and development involving Namibian students and museum workers, and students from Switzerland.