The Making of the Film ‘The Himbas Are Shooting!’By: Martha Mukaiwa
FOR many Windhoek dwellers, the Himbas are nothing more than the bare-breasted women who sell an assortment of wooden curios on the corner of Independence Avenue and Fidel Castro Street.
Silent and strange-skinned, the taciturn tribe, who have long held the world’s fascination, seem to blend into the cluster of tourist attractions that include the Christuskirche, the tin windmill and the lush Zoo Park across the street.
Though, they have been captured on postcards, in documentaries and in random photographs taken by spellbound sightseers, the one way in which they have never been represented... is by themselves.
However, French writer and film director, Solenn Bardet has made sure they do the very thing.
After meeting and being adopted by the Himba people as a young geography student 18 years ago, Bardet came to realise that despite many film shoots – including some in which she was directly involved – none of the Himba had ever seen the documentaries or feature films they participated in. To rectify this wrong, Bardet organised
regular alfresco film screenings in the Himbas’ native Kaokoland, with the films projected onto a large piece of cloth hung between acacia trees.
Delighting in seeing themselves on screen but feeling slightly misrepresented by how they were portrayed to the world, the idea of ‘The Himbas are Shooting’ was born.
Expounding on their mythology, origins, history, day-to-day life, ceremonies, the relationships they have developed with their ancestors, the lure and dangers of modern life as well as the changes imposed on
them and the ones chosen for themselves, ‘The Himbas are Shooting’ promises to present the group as they have never been seen before – filtered through their own experience of showing and shooting.
But first a preview in the form of photographs.
While some films prefer to present a teaser in the form of a moving montage, Bardet has chosen to inspire interest through an exhibition housed at The Blue Frog Restaurant at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre. Fittingly titled ‘Ondjongo – The Making of The Himbas are Shooting!’ the exhibition is a collection of photos taken during filming and presents a few unfamiliar ideas about the seemingly well known tribe.
Introducing what seems to be a Himba male amongst classic Himba females as well as the strange idea of old Himba women without reddened dreadlocks, the exhibition, though small and somewhat repetitive. acts as an interesting teaser to the documentary which will premiere in Windhoek next week.
Hinting at an element of individuality and interest beyond the mould, ‘The Himbas are Shooting!’ a documentary by Bardet and her friend Muhapikwa, will no doubt be an edifying introduction of
a world within a world while offering a cultural counterpoint to Namibian life as we know it.
‘Ondjongo – The Making of the Himbas are Shooting!’ can be viewed at The FNCC gallery until August 11. The 52 minute film ‘The Himbas are Shooting!” can be viewed at 19h00 on August 11 at the FNCC cinema.