Namibian Premiere of ‘Authenticized’ Tonight

WITH their so-called ‘exotic’ appearance and ‘unique’ way of life, the ovaHimba people are a huge attraction for tourists, photographers and filmmakers.

But authenticity comes at a price. As they become economically dependent on their own representation, the ovaHimba now have to live up to their image, while simultaneously trying to preserve a culture in transition.

The film ‘Authenticized’, directed and produced by Marijn Kraak, Reimer van Tuinen and Karel Poortman, observes the ovaHimba people on every side of the lens – framing, posing, paying and performing.

Since Namibia’s independence in 1990 and the following increased accessibility of the area, the Kunene region has become a prime site for international tourism. In recent years the ovaHimba have been appearing frequently on television shows and in documentaries from all over the world. Tourism and television are now so ubiquitous in the region that for many ovaHimba, it has become a source of income.

Money is earned from tourists and TV crews who visit the compounds and an increasing number of ovaHimba have started to work as tour guides, interpreters, location scouts or production assistants, have set up camp sites, lodges and luxury resorts for tourists are providing Himba Tours.

At the same time, the presence of such large numbers of tourists, photographers and filmmakers means a violation of the very same authenticity those tourists and media professionals come looking for.

As they have become, to a large extent, economically dependent on their own representations, the ovaHimba now face the difficulty of living up to the image that is expected of them, while simultaneously seeing their traditional ways of life heavily affected by the arrival of foreign visitors and media. As a consequence, the ovaHimba have to cultivate their own authenticity.

And so the ovaHimba find themselves part of a true socio-economic industry of authenticity, in which tourists, local tour guides, professional photographers, TV crews, camp site owners, municipal officials, film commission representatives, minority aocates and human rights lawyers all play their part in creating, recording, monitoring, legitimising and selling authenticity.

Fundamental to this industry is the paradox that can be found in many places all over the world: that for the ovaHimba authenticating their own culture now means cultivating their own authenticity.

The screening will take place tonight at 18h30 at the FNCC and there is a N$20 entrance fee.

Source : The Namibian