KEETMANSHOOP – The Deputy Minister of Education, Arts and Culture, Anna Nghipondoka has reiterated that government regards heritage preservation very seriously, knowing that every epoch in the walk to freedom was a building bridge to nationhood.
She spoke on behalf of the acting minister of education Martin Andjamba at the recent Shark Island public meeting where Lüderitz was announced a national heritage site.
In reference to the island that was during the colonial era a German concentration camp where thousands of Namibians were incarcerated, Nghipondoka said the purpose of her visit was to commemorate its very sad yesterday that has given birth to a free and independent Namibia.
“The reason government was prompted to declaring the site and subsequent announcement of the heritage status is simply because of its historic value,” she explained.
She described Shark Island as a symbol of grief, agony, pain, suffering, rape and other gruesome acts of inhumane practices by the colonisers.
“The island embraces and tolerate powerful evidence of the tangible and psychological sufferings sustained by our people in custody on the island during times of imperialism and colonialism,” she further elaborated.
Nghipondoka also stressed a prosperous Namibia was built on the testimonies of the bravery and patriotism of the fallen heroes/heroines of the bitter and dreadful struggles for independence which was the ultimate goal.
“Heritage and history are conditions for the maintenance of communication between yesterday and today and is furthermore meant to preserve sets of connections to a given memory,” she said. Nghipondoka further added the preservation of the island serves to reinvent the past in order to interpret the present. “Cultural heritage lends automatic and spontaneous sense of unity and make us to realise where we are coming from,” she stated. Referring to those having interest in business activities at the site, she was adamant that such developments will be scrutinised by the National Heritage Council as a precautionary measure to safeguard the solemn sacred heritage value intrinsic to Shark Island.
“I encourage the local and national entrepreneurs to partner with the National Heritage Council in order to allow Shark Island to be a bedrock for the domestic economy of Lüderitz,” she said.
The deputy minister continued by imploring for more research about Shark Island since what is known currently about the heritage site is based more on written articles by historians. “The Namibian people need to tell their own story about Shark Island.”
UNESCO resolved that cultural and natural heritage could play a part in sustainable development efforts and could therefore be changed into economic engines without compromising the heritage significance of a heritage resource.
NDP (National Development Plan) 5 furthermore makes provision for avenues through which heritage as an economic commodity could contribute to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. Shark Island was declared as a national heritage site on 15 February 2019.