21 May is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. In 2001, UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and in December 2002, the UN General Assembly, in its resolution 57/249, declared May 21 to be the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. The day provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to advance the four goals of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions adopted on 20 October 2005:
This year, we also celebrate the European Year of Cultural Heritage and the 100th anniversary of the “discovery” of the “White Lady” and other rock paintings at the Brandberg by a German expedition. All these together represent a good occasion to reflect on cultural heritage in Namibia and German-Namibian cooperation in its preservation.
Since before independence, Germany has committed more than 1 million euros to the preservation of Namibia’s cultural heritage. More than 130,000 € have been committed to the preservation and documentation of the Brandberg rock carvings alone. Before that, much work had already been done by the German Research Association DFG in this area.
Other highlights of German-Namibian cooperation in the area of cultural preservation have been the renovation and expansion of the Rehoboth and Tsumeb museums, of museums and collections in Swakopmund, the creation of an archaeological map of Namibia, putting the archives of the Christian mission on micro-film, the documentation and publication of Ndonga literature, Ovambo music and oral history, the restauration of the church in Bethanien and the Christuskirche in Windhoek, the renovation of the National Library and the Namibia Scientific Society building, of the Officer’s House in Warmbad, and “Stolen Moments”, the digitization of black music from the Apartheid era. This year, Germany intends to finance emergency preservation measures at the Alte Feste to the tune of 25,000 € or almost 400,000 NAD.
This shows that Germany has assisted Namibia in the preservation of its cultural heritage in all its diversity and thus this diversity itself. It is important to know your history and cultural heritage so they cannot be abused by demagogues or extremists for their political, ideological or personal purposes.
Hence Germany is looking forward to continuing and deepening its cooperation with its Namibian partners in this important area of our bilateral relations and I would like to encourage all stakeholders to submit applications for new projects. I would also like to thank our long-time partners in these endeavours, the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, the National Heritage Council, the National Library and Archive, the National Museum, the Museums Association of Namibia, the Council for German Culture in Namibia (Deutscher Kulturrat DKR) and many others.