The FNB Foundation has generously provided funding the publication of the "Legacies of a Colonial Town" book. This forms part of the ongoing project “Legacies of a Colonial Town” at the Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning that goes back to 2012, when the then Department of Architecture was approached by the British Council in London, through the Directorate of Arts at the Ministry of Youth, National Service Sport and Culture to develop an exhibition on Namibia's architecture and design for the 2012 International Architecture and Design Showcase in London.
Mr Phillip Lühl, a lecturer at the Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning was appointed as project coordinator and developed the concept for the Namibian exhibition in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Architecture, some local architects and institutions. The British Council offered seed funding, which the Directorate of Arts generously complemented, so that the content for the London exhibition could be developed within a few months.
After the initial success of the exhibition in London the exhibition was re-staged at the National Art Gallery in Windhoek in January 2013, and a second time at SOWETO market in Katutura as part of the "Land Matters in Art" project in March of the same year. Around these local staging’s three public were organised, which provided lively debate and exposed the huge challenges ahead for Namibia, if it wants to overcome the architectural and urban spatial legacies of Apartheid planning and segregation, that continue to structure our everyday lives.
This book, the compilation of the research process, documentation of the exhibitions as well as public debates, will not only speak to the reader interested in architecture or urban issues alone, but more importantly it is directed towards a more general public in the same way the exhibitions were. It aims at providing the base for further debate, and calls for further and more in-depth research. It will be useful for primary and secondary educational purposes, where there is a need to advance critical thinking, rather than mere dry historical facts. It might be a good introduction for the culturally and socially interested visitor to Namibia as well as for “cultural diplomacy” outside of the country. Last but not least it will be a milestone in the work of the Department of Architecture Spatial Planning.
As the main funding partner of the exhibitions in London and Windhoek, the Directorate of Arts has assured funding for the book, which however needed to be complemented to ensure a publication of high quality with the necessary visual and editorial professionalism. The FNB Foundation has since agreed to fund the graphic design, proofreading as well as a dissemination campaign for the book. In addition, the Foundation has voiced interest in funding 250 extra copies of the book for distribution to Namibian school libraries, an initiative that is highly commendable.
Our sincere gratitude goes out to the FNB Foundation, the Directorate of Arts and all the other supportive people and institutions for making this book a reality and I am looking forward to its publication.
*Originally published on 16 April 2014