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Amplifying the African voice through photography

2021-08-27  Aletta Shikololo

Amplifying the African voice through photography
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Aletta Shikololo

The first exhibition by Omeho Project officially opened at a local eatery in Windhoek on Tuesday. Founded by doctoral researcher Auri Evokari, the exhibition features captivating portrait photography, paired with compelling stories from local start-up entrepreneurs, creative geniuses and disruptive technologists.

Omeho, meaning ‘eyes’ in the Oshiwambo language, is a project aimed to produce a series of captivating portraiture and documentary photography about the everyday lives of entrepreneurs and stylised photography to represent the contemporary and urban side of Africa. 

The project interprets start-up entrepreneurship locally and diversifies the imagery of Africa for the West.

“The way Africa is currently portrayed in Western countries contributes to a lack of understanding about urban, contemporary, and middle-class Africa. This can inhibit travel, trade and business, and fuel racist views,” said Evokari.

Evokari, who is originally from Finland, said start-up entrepreneurs in southern Africa create innovative businesses that alleviate youth unemployment but sometimes face opposition from people who do not share their vision.

“I am researching this contemporary form of entrepreneurship that is digital or technology-enabled and it is growing fast, but there is still not a lot of empirical evidence on how to best support them,” she said.

The project also aims to celebrate young Namibian thinkers who further their industries, create jobs and strive to make a positive impact on their communities.

“I think we need to start by understanding the founders better. One thing that seems clear is that they think and work differently than traditional entrepreneurs, and we wanted to share their stories widely.”

The one-month exhibition unveils a collection of 20 pieces by Namibian photographer Willem Vrey and one by Opas Nucheyo.

The models were selected from more than 80 submissions.

“We have shot the models in their own environments – be it their offices, homes or the cafés and co-working spaces. It’s been eye-opening for me to learn about this sub-culture in my own hometown. We have a lot of talent here,” said Vrey at the exhibition launch.

According to Evokari, the project will continue to Lusaka and Cape Town in the upcoming year.

“We will aim to organise an exhibition with the photos in Finland too – and maybe even publish them in a coffee-table book,” Evokari said.

Turipamwe, a multidisciplinary design agency, will continue to partner with the Omeho Project, advising on communication, exhibition and book design.

“We are partnering with Omeho Project in-kind because we truly believe in its ability to impact the future. It shapes people’s understanding of valuable new businesses that create jobs in Namibia,” said Tanya Stroh, founder and creative director of Turipamwe.

The exhibition is sponsored by GIZ Namibia, Startup Namibia and Bank Windhoek.

- ashikololo@nepc.com.na


2021-08-27  Aletta Shikololo

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