Namas Judge Under Fire for ‘German’ Comments

“The vision that is sold to us westerners about Africa is always so far from the truth it’s a blatant lie.”

So starts a feature on the Namibian Annual Music Awards, written by British guest judge, Jasmine Dotiwala, for the Huffington Post last Monday. The article garnered criticism from some Namibians over a factual error.

She wrongly referred to Namibia as having gained independence from Germany in 1990, and also pointed out that Namibia is “Germany’s best kept secret”.

She also annoyed some Namibians who took offence at her description of some award attendees “dripping in regal outfits made of animal skins, fur, feathers and more, despite the country’s g laws on conservation”.

Taking to Twitter, some corrected Dotiwala and called her out for her statements. @AndyClva tweeted: @jasminedotiwala “Germany’s best kept secret” implies that Namibia is still governed by Germany, so what do you really mean by this ey..”.

In response, Dotiwala tweeted an apology for her error. She told The Namibian that the slight was due to a misunderstanding of what a tour guide told her about Namibia’s independence.

“I was told by a guide whilst out there that “Namibia used to be a German colony and gained its true independence only as recently as 1990″. Foolishly I took this to mean ‘independence from Germany in 1990’ and didn’t research the correct facts. Human error and lazy. This I am guilty of and did apologise immediately on Twitter to those that corrected me, and made a correction beneath the article,” she said.

As for referring to Namibia as being Germany’s best kept secret, Dotiwala said

“It’s not about ownership of a country. It’s about the sheer surprise that whilst Namibia is clearly a huge vacation spot for Germans, in the UK it is barely on our vacation radar. Hence ‘Germany’s best kept tourism secret’,” she said.

Dotiwala defended her article, saying that it was filled with positive praise of not only the NAMA awards, but of Namibia as a tourist destination that few Britons know of.

“The NAMAs were a great experience and this is essentially what I wanted to portray. The whole of my article says positive things about the event and the artists. There is nothing negative about this story,” she said.

As to her comments on the fur and leather worn by many at the awards, Dotiwala maintains that this was not meant as a dig to the country, but was an actual fact based on her observation. “Another tweeter took offence to me mentioning that there was fur and a variety of animal skin outfits at the awards. This is relevant to a UK audience and of interest as here, if celebs wear animal skins or fur they get a lot of heat from Peta. It was also a surprise as there were so many signs we spotted about conservation and protection of Namibia’s nature, that it seemed surprising. One of the Namibian fashion designers we spoke with on the blue carpet said he made all his clothing from animals skins. There is no dig here. It’s an observation and a fact,” she said.

She said that aside from the historical error, some Namibian people on Twitter told her that they actually loved the article. “I feel in this day and age there are much bigger issues to air frustrations and anger on. I attempted to engage in genuine conversation with the tweeters yesterday, but when it began getting aggressive, nasty and unproductive I realised that the conversation was over.”

Dotiwala has since deleted her tweets relating to this matter and has posted a correction beneath the article.

Source : The Namibian