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Okaepe Living Museum and school project
(Meet the people of Namibia)
Okaepe living museum is a project initiated and run by the school headmaster and founder of the primary school in Okaepe village in Hereroland near Waterberg and Okakarara, Mrs Batseba Rukero.
The Okaepe living museum offers visitors an insight into the life of the local San and Herero cultures in historic and today times by providing four different programmes which one can experience with a visit to Okaepe village.
Mrs Batseba Rukero herself or one of the teachers will explain and translate al the performances into English.
The aim of the living museum is to:
1. Develop Okaepe as a tourism destination in Hereroland
2. Be an income for the school to the benefit of the very poor Herero and San scholars
3. Act as a “hands on history and theatre” project/lecture for locals and foreigners
The programs available are:
1. San and Herero children performance (1h)
The children perform in historic dress.
Two San groups show several old traditional San songs, dances and games around their traditional live as hunter and gatherers in harmony with their surrounding environment.
The Herero group perform a little theatre showing main aspects of the traditional Herero way of life displaying the close relationship to their beloved cattle and the braveness as defeaters against cattle killing lions.
2. Herero wedding ceremony (1h)
Herero adults in historic skin dress perform an old traditional Herero wedding. Feel invited to experience this traditional Herero romance…
3. Spend a morning with Herero villagers (3h)
You visit the today village of the Okaepe Herero people and may join their daily traditional duties as milking the cows, making traditional Omeire (sour milk, their main food), herding the cattle, experience the holy fire practices, speak to these proud people and learn that they are just as interested in you as you are in them, join in for a meal and many more.
4. Visit today San settlement (2h)
Meet the friendly San, the oldest indigenous tribe of Namibia. You will learn a lot about their old live as hunters and gatherers as well as their live today sharing the land with the Herero pastoralists. You will listen to their songs, see them dancing for their own joy, hear old hunting stories and you will most probably not leave without loving these great people of the past.
N$ 100.- per visitor for each of the programmes
(Tour guides are free of charge)
(The income will be to the direct benefit of the school, the boarding school and the actors.)
A camping place will be build in future. Meanwhile you may camp wild in the near by Omatako river bed under huge Omumborumbonga trees, which is said to be the tree where the Herero ancestors had came out of. Please ask permission to do so.
Other places to stay over in relative vicinity are:
Waterberg Plateau Park (Bungalows and camping)
Hamakari Guest Farm
Okaepe is located 54 km east of Okakarara.
To find Okaepe village, the school and living museum please take the tar road from Okakarara to the east (D 3822) in the direction to Coblenz. After 4 km you turn right onto the dust road D 3805. Follow this for 31 km and then turn of left onto the D 3801. After 19 km from this turn off you will find Okaepe on your right hand side. Look out for a sign OKAEPE or notice the white school buildings in the village about 100 m off the main road. You will find Mrs Rukero in the school office.
Please book well in advance so that Mrs Rukero can arrange everything in time.
Mrs Batseba Rukero
Okaepe School and Living Museum
Private bag 2116
Tel: 067 - 317999 or 317997
Mrs Batseba Rukero is the founder of the Okaepe School and the living museum. She started the school between 2002 and 2003 to the benefit of the very poor San and Herero community in the area who could not afford sending their children to Okakarara. She also started a boarding school as most of the San children live very far away from Okaepe. In 2004 she managed to let a UN foundation finance boarding school buildings in Okaepe. Unfortunately there is no furnishing included, so for example the children have to sleep on the naked ground, often not even earning a single blanked.
To help in this situation Mrs Rukero thought of alternative money sources. She initiated cultural performances among the San and Herero children of her school in order to create a touristy attraction.
I met her and her San performance group at the 2004 Herero festivities in Okakarara where she made her idea public. I told her about my initiations of historic living villages (living museums) in Namibia and found that she had the same idea for Okaepe. So we initiated a cultural day in October 2004 for the villagers of Okaepe, the tour operators Bwana Tucke Tucke and Eagles Rock Tours & Safaris as well as the Allgemeine Zeitung to develop a good programme, including the villagers of Okaepe into the idea.
The first foreign paying visitor to Okaepe, Mrs Sylvia Fischer from Thüringen (Germany) firstname.lastname@example.org was delighted and fascinated. We camped the night of 23 February 2005 in the Omuramba Omatako close to Okaepe village. The next morning two scholars invited us to the activity place. The two San children groups danced and sang with grace and Mrs Fischer enjoyed it very much having a beautiful insight into the very old San culture. And which women will resist a lovely bunch of happy children? The Herero children group impressed with a little theatre about their live as cattle herders fighting the attack of a lion, mixed with songs, shouts and every day activities of the old traditional Herero people.
After the historical show Mrs Rukero introduced us to the school, the new boarding school presently under construction, the present open air “kitchen” and “dining place” and impressed us with her positive attitude and strength to develop this area and help the people.
I believe that Sylvia Fischer, now back in cold Germany, will come back more often to this place in the following years and I heard her talking of supporting this unique person Rukero and her development ideas.
Report by Werner Pfeifer
@ Its Past on Its Sleeve
@ Herero holocaust?
@ Oahera Centre Maltahohe
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