15 May 2014 11:20am
WINDHOEK, 15 MAY (NAMPA) The Finnish Mission Museum in Helsinki, Finland has donated photographs taken by Finnish missionaries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to the Nakambale Museum in the Oshikoto Regions Olukonda village.
The black-and-white photographs depict the lives of the Finnish missionaries and local communities in the north of Namibia during the early years of Finnish missionary work.
Speaking at the official opening of an exhibition of the photos titled Finnish Memories of Northern Namibia at the National Art Gallery here on Tuesday, the Ambassador of Finland to Namibia Anne Saloranta said this is a joint effort coordinated by the Museums Association of Namibia, in cooperation with the Embassy of Finland and the National Art Gallery of Namibia.
The photographs show northern Namibia in the late 19th and early 20th century. The donation is intended for the Nakambale museum, and the exhibition will be displayed there permanently, she said, adding that they are showing the 30 original photographs in Windhoek before the exhibition travels to Olukonda.
The Windhoek exhibition is open to the public from 15 May until the end of the month.
The partnership between Finland and Namibia has evolved throughout the years, and there is a broad range of interaction between the two countries in several fields, including exchanges between education institutions, collaboration at ministerial level, business partnerships and various forms of development co-operation.
Saloranta added that in line with the Finnish Governments Development Policy, the embassy has been supporting a number of cultural projects through its Fund for Local Cooperation.
One of their priority areas is the preservation of cultural heritage, of which the photo exhibition is an excellent example.
Finland and Namibia share a joint history dating back almost 144 years to the early days when the first Finnish missionaries arrived in the kingdom of Ondonga in the Oshikoto Region in the former South-West Africa.
According to the Finnish Mission Museum, the photographs were exhibited in Finland in 1911, and after some 103 years, the photographs are now back in the country where they originated from and where they rightfully belong, Saloranta stated.
On his part, the Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia (ELCIN)s Western Diocese, Shekutaamba Nambala started his speech here with a proverb from the Holy Bible, which says Being wise is better than being strong. Yes, knowledge is more important than strength. After all, you must make careful plans before you fight a battle, and the more good advice you get, the more likely you are to win.
When the missionaries arrived in Namibia in 1869, they did not come with a show of strength. But they were wise to allow themselves to live in peace with the local inhabitants of the country, he noted, adding that their aim was not to rule or acquire land, but to transmit knowledge to the people of this country because missionaries knew that the strength was hidden in the knowledge and art of reading, writing and recording.
The missionaries carefully planned their steps before they embarked upon the battle against illiteracy amongst our people, the bishop said.
He furthermore indicated that the missionaries not only taught people how to read and write, but were also intensively involved in recording general history, folklore and cultural and social narratives.
In addition, they collected hundreds of local artefacts, and took numerous photos depicting the surrounding environment, local people and animals.