WINDHOEK - After world renowned designer from Paris Jørgen Simonsen last year made headlines with his Swakara’s 110-year anniversary opera coatdress, shot on location at sunset in the Deadvlei in the Namibian Desert by photographer Perer Christian Christensen and worn beautifully by Carmen Kass, the Swakara Industry Forum is set for another golden year.
The industry will hold its Annual General Meeting on September 25 in Keetmanshoop where the sought after Golden Lamb and other awards will be handed over during a gala dinner. The Swakara industry last year celebrated its 110th anniversary in a splendid way in Keetmanshoop with representatives from the Copenhagen Fur and other international associates in the pelts industry also attending the Annual General Meeting. Julene Meyer, chairperson of the Swakara Board, says the pioneers who established the much-sought-after industry 110 years ago in Namibia, deserve much of the honour for the current flourishing industry.
The government has also echoed this tribute and assured continued support to the industry through the agricultural ministry. Years ago, the Swakara industry had already been identified by the government as a strategic industry. Last year, the 80-year-old Piet Steenkamp received the Quality Award as best producer. The International Fur Federation was awarded with the Golden Lamb award in recognition of the cooperation between the Swakara board and the International Fur Federation.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Central Asia (today’s Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan) became an important supplier of karakul or Persian lamb skins, especially those from the area of Buchara. In Leipzig, a renowned furrier company called Thorer, which started back in 1612, advised the German colonial government, which ruled over then South West Africa (now Namibia) to introduce karakul sheep to the country. A small herd of karakul sheep was imported into Germany in 1903 for research. The arid, desert conditions in Namibia are similar to those of the Central Asian steppes. On September 24, 1907, the first 12 sheep – two rams and ten ewes -arrived on board a freight ship in Swakopmund, which at that time still had a harbour. From these humble beginnings, the karakul industry grew in leaps and bounds, reaching its peak in the 1970s. The karakul sheep has some unique qualities. It has a dominant black gene, so a very high percentage of these sheep are born black.
The cost for the gala dinner is N$150 per person and to register, contact Jenny, Tel 061 237750, firstname.lastname@example.org, Jaco, Tel 061 2909301, email@example.com or Diolene, Tel 063 223321, firstname.lastname@example.org.