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December 27, 2005

For Some Practical Anthropology.

“Why are you drinking?” asked Engelbert for a young lady. “I drink because I don’t have a job, what else could I do?”
Hum, interesting point of view. I think those near my tend, who are now singing for more than two hours would say the same. They are all drunk, as always, because there is no job to work on, there is no school for those who were “left behind”, there are no curses to help then to get a job and there is no money. There are just drinks and songs.
Since I got here in Okondjato I am wondering how they all became poor. I say “became” because one day their forefathers maybe were not so different than they are now, always around their fires, all drunk, dancing and singing songs, but they were not poor, they were traditional.
Maybe the songs could help us to understand better these transformations. I’ve never heard those forefathers singing, but I can know for sure they were not singing these catholic hymns their sons are singing now. The problem is not on the songs it self but on the process that brought these songs to their lives. The colonialism and the development transformed tradition in poverty.
The first one, on fact, just changed the tradition, it became weak. All those missionaries saying the holy fires were bad, giving the natives cloths, saying that polygamy was wrong and all those governs taking their cattle and their land, started to change Herero’s traditional way of life in such a way that some times is ironic – like on the women Victorians dress, that until today are the Herero’s “traditional” women clothes. But it was when those colonialists decided to develop “their” territory that finally tradition started to become poverty.
Now to get their food the natives would have to work, but their “prices” would be very cheap, so they would not have money to sustain a whole family like their forefathers did with theirs hunts. So now – using that Casttles’ word I don’t liked but I think here can be well used – they are on a process of desfiliacìon with their traditions.
They profaned the sacred trying to save their way of life. As I said for one young man involved politically here in Okondjato, “development has his own tradition”, they need to find a way to have it with out loosing the rest of their tradition.
Now, you want some practical Anthropology? There it’s. There are a lot of things to be done here. They need development projects that understand their cultures and not destroy them and there is no one better than anthropologists to do it.

Posted by josue at December 27, 2005 11:04 AM