Homestead Creator

27 May 2020 | Text and photos Homestead Creator.

These photos were taken on field trips to the Kunene Region in the far north-west of Namibia. The purpose was to design ICT systems to safeguard indigenous knowledge jointly with the local communities – in this case the OvaHimba.

The system being designed in the photos is the Homestead Creator, which provides a way for people to illustrate and contextualise their traditional stories in a virtual way. They also use the tablet to record videos and take photographs. Homestead Creator was originally developed jointly by researchers from the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) and Kasper Rodil from Aalborg University.

Professor Heike Winschiers-Theophilus from NUST and I are the principal investigators in this project. The co-design was undertaken by our students – in this case by Colin Stanley, who is from the OvaHerero community and has just submitted his PhD thesis at UCT. He speaks the common language of the OvaHerero and OvaHimba, namely Otjiherero. One of the photos (with the elders) also shows Gereon Kapuire, who completed his MSc at UCT and who is also at NUST.

These were taken by Uariaike Mbinge, an elder of the OvaHimba, with whom we have been working since 2013. I have annotated the file names to be a bit descriptive. Uariaike’s interest has been in building up a library of images of culturally important things. These images can then be added to the Homestead Creator app to place them in context.

Colin Stanley added: “In front of the kraal, or central otjnda, is a holy fire used for praying for the sick through their forefathers/ancestors; naming of babies also takes place at holy fire. Also, for weddings the groom and bride are taken there to ask for the best wishes from the forefathers. This place is sacred as a church is in western traditions.”

One of the images shows Uariaike explaining an aspect of application on the tablet to another elder. Lately he has recorded a video explaining how the system works for other members of the OvaHimba community who live in the area covering north-west Namibia and southern Angola.

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