The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, stresses that the concept of human rights is bound closely to the belief that culture is central to our identity. The way we are born, live and die is affected by the culture to which we belong and languages play an important role in this.
The UNESCO 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, states that cultural diversity is ‘a defining characteristic of humanity which forms a common heritage that ought to be cherished and preserved for the benefit of all.’ It reflects the ‘uniqueness and plurality of the identities and cultural expressions of people; making it important to preserve such cultural expressions.’ Linguistic diversity, which typifies many African states, is an important element of cultural diversity. Thus UNESCO (2005) argues for the need to recognise linguistic diversity in society as a means to promote cultural diversity, which is necessary for a full realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Today, numerous factors are threatening the plurality of identities and cultural expressions. Castells (1997) argues that identities and cultural expressions are ‘strongly being reshaped by globalisation and, the information and technology revolution.’ Thus the impact of globalisation and information technologies could lead to the possible extinction or impairment to cultural expressions. Namibia, despite its scant population, is home to a wide variety of cultures that speak diverse languages, from multiple language families: Indo-European, Bantu, and the several Khoe Khoe families. Although speakers of these languages have a deep attachment to their cultural identity and history the emphasis on English has created a situation wherein the indigenous languages are fighting for their very existence therefore it is imperative to ensure adequate protection and promotion of cultural expressions, identities and subsequently, human rights.
Revitalizing the indigenous languages Oshiwambo, Otjiherero and Namibian Khoe Khoe and protecting, preserving and promoting the culture of Namibian indigenous cultures.
- Indigenous cultural expressions in Oshiwambo, Otjiherero and Namibian Khoe Khoe are preserved, protected and freely accessible online;
- Increased cultural awareness in Namibia of Owambo, Ovaherero and San cultural expressions and language;
- Positive change in knowledge and attitude of Owambo, Ovaherero and San people towards indigenous cultural expressions and language;
- Increased institutional capacity on indigenous culture and language;
- Indigenous cultures and languages are an integral part of the developmental agenda of the government.
- Collection of cultural expressions in three indigenous languages: Oshiwambo, Otjiherero and Namibian Khoe Khoe.
- The collected cultural expressions are digitalized and availed online.
3.1 Three play scripts on cultural weddings of Owambo, Ovaherero and San cultural groups are developed.
3.2 Three books on wedding processions of Owambo, Ovaherero and San cultural groups are produced in English and indigenous language.
3.3 Three children books on famous folklore /indigenous stories of Owambo, Ovaherero and San cultural groups are produced in English and indigenous language.
3.4. 12 academic publications are written.
3.5. Three academic conference presentations on indigenous language and culture are conducted.
4. Cultural awareness raising events are organized on indigenous languages and cultural expressions.
4.1. Three cultural festivals are organized focussing on revitalizing indigenous languages and cultural expressions.
4.2. Community radio shows are organized focussing on revitalizing indigenous languages and cultural expressions.
4.3. Four exhibitions on indigenous languages and cultural expressions are organized in Khomas, Omaheke, Omusati and Ohangwena regions.
4.4. Active social media site, with regular updates on social media regarding indigenous languages and cultural expressions throughout the project.
5. The project has advocated for preservation of cultural expressions and indigenous languages to governmental stakeholders and other decision makers.