Khwe make traditional clothing and equipment for their Cultural Village
Within the frame of their joint project, Gebeco and Futouris support a Khwe community in Northern Namibia in setting up their own Cultural Village, which the Khwe can manage independently thus can generate a steady and sustainable income for their community.
In February 2020, our project partner Living Culture Foundation Namibia (LCFN) and representatives of the Khwe visited an already existing, neighbouring Cultural Village to get ideas for their own programme.
With the outbreak of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic and the absence of international tourists, the Khwe’s income has also decreased. In the past months, Futouris and Gebeco together with the local project partner ATC supported the Khwe with urgently needed food donations.
Despite the challenging situation, the Khwe continued to work on building their own Cultural Village. The project is very popular, many Khwe are interested in working in the Cultural Village and the project group is growing.
During a meeting in December, the planned programme in the Cultural Village was further discussed and refined. It was determined which items of clothing and equipment the Khwe need for historically correct work in the Cultural Village. For men, this includes bows, quivers and arrows as well as knives and spears. The women need, among other things, leather bags for collecting plants and carrying bags for their babies. These items were now made in another workshop last month together with Sebastian from LCFN.
In order to make clothes and bags, the women use animal skins from springboks or impalas. For this workshop a Windhoek tannery donated a giraffe skin.
To soften the skins the Khwe women use the tanner’s root “Wild Onion” which is traditionally collected in the bush. Tanning the skins is usually the men’s job, but since they were still in the bush on the morning of the workshop day, the women took over this task. The tanned skins are used to make clothes, blankets, baby carrier bags and bags to gather herbs and plants.
During the two days, the women also made cords and ropes, baskets from Makalani palm fibre, reed mats as well as bracelets from papyrus and jewellery from ostrich eggshells.
With the materials Sebastian brought with him (wrought iron, anvils, hammers, tongs), the Khwe men made arrows, knife and spear points in a blacksmith workshop.
The next day, the men carved arrows and made bows as well as a “spring hare fishing rod”, which is used to catch the South African spring hare native to Namibia.
During the final meeting, the participants discussed the next steps in the project as well as the further development and implementation of the various programme ideas. Among other things, traditional Khwe dances and the life in the village (women’s and men’s work) will be shown in the Cultural Village. In addition, game tracking will be explained to visitors during a bush walk. The programmes will then be prepared and rehearsed in another project meeting.
Unfortunately, the opening of the Cultural Village is strongly dependent on the further development of the worldwide pandemic. Due to the lack of tourists, the Khwe’s income has also decreased, and thus their livelihood is threatened. Unfortunately, it is still unclear when trips to Namibia and visits to the Khwe village will be possible again.
In order to be able to live independently of tourism in the long term, another source of income needs to be created. The soil in the village is very rich and well suited for the cultivation of crops such as corn. Unfortunately, water is scarce and there is no functioning water supply in the village. The Khwe fetch water 4-5 times a day from the Kavango River about 1km away, but the way there is very tedious, and the water is just enough for daily needs, but not for irrigating plants.
Our goal is to offer a permanent water supply in the Khwe village, so that they not only have clean drinking water, but can also cultivate crops. With a solar pump, water can be pumped via a pipe from the river into a 5,000-litre water tank.
In addition, the Khwe will be trained by an expert in the cultivation of agricultural products specific to the region, so that these are optimally adapted to the prevailing climatic and soil conditions.
We would be very happy to receive donations for the provision of a functioning water supply system in the Khwe village: https://www.betterplace.org/en/projects/91548-water-is-life-water-supply-for-15-khwe-families-in-namibia
This partnership is based on the “wilderness tracker” project, initiated in 2013, which aims to preserve and transfer the unique knowledge of the Khwe community. The focus of the follow-up project is the independent management of the project by the Khwe, so that a stable and sustainable income can be generated.