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Paul Moore in Namibia

Namibia is a country of incredible beauty, both of landscape and wildlife and it has a rich tradition of artistic excellence.

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Dr Paul Moore is a lecturer in Media Studies at the University of Ulster, Coleraine. You will know him as a regular contributor and presenter for "Your Place & Mine".

On Saturday 2nd July 2005 he presented Your Place & Mine as part of the Africa Lives On The BBC season and played recordings he made over the last two years while he was working in Namibia. In this article, Paul talks about some of his wonderful experiences in Namibia.

Dr Paul Moore - Click picture for biography

"Poverty, HIV/Aids and amazing music; that was the real extent of my knowledge of Africa before I had the opportunity to go and work in Namibia." says Paul.

"A couple of years ago I was asked to take part in a British Council initiative to develop media education in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, and to help re-establish a community radio station for the black community of Katatura on the outskirts of the city."

The reason I was asked was because of my lecturing role in the Media Studies section at the University of Ulster in Coleraine and my involvement as a freelance presenter with BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Radio Foyle. Both these jobs had given me experiences which it was felt might mean I had something to offer this developing area of the Namibian cultural landscape. Unfortunately, nothing could have prepared me for the experiences I have had over the last two years.

Namibia is, in fact, very like Northern Ireland. Each has a population of approximately one and a half million, each is coming out of a period of sustained civil unrest and each is trying to find ways to construct some kind of cultural consensus, although in Namibia’s case this consensus has to be found for 13 different cultural groups rather than two.

Namibia is a country of incredible beauty, both of landscape and wildlife and it has a rich tradition of artistic excellence.

The college I worked in while there was once a hostel for mine workers, a place of pain and oppression which has now been given a new lease of life as a centre for learning and hope for the future.

A telephone shop
A telephone shop in Namibia

 

Students in Namibia believe they will have a future in the media industry.

Namibians see the media as crucial in the building of their newly independent nation. The students I have taught in the College (aged 17 to 21) have a firm belief that they will work in the media industry and ‘make a difference’. They are highly competent in production work and are trying to create radio forms that represent their culture and their nation of which they are rightly proud.

It is fitting that, as the public service broadcaster in the UK, the BBC should be celebrating Africa through various media forms since all the African states understand the importance of representing themselves positively. And I am especially pleased that on 2nd July I have the privilege of presenting a special edition of Your Place & Mine that will showcase the work of the students I have been working with.

These students have tried to produce radio vignettes about their life and about life in Namibia and these will be played throughout the programme. They will be played exactly as the students recorded them, using the technology that was available to them.

These radio soundscapes offer an insight into the confidence and hopes these young people have for the future and give a sense of the pride they feel for their developing nation. And the following week, on Saturday July 9 2005, I will also have the privilege of being back in Africa, this time in a cultural festival in Zanzibar, from where Your Place and Mine will again link up with me live.

Amore is a 2nd year media student at the Kakatura Arts College. She is studying radio production. "I love radio as a medium. It helps me share different ideas with others".
Audio Clip: Amore

 

Toivoi is a student and part-time lecturer at the Kakatura Arts College. "I love being at the Arts Centre.. it's a great part of my life. My fellow students and peers go out and record new material and experiment with ways of making it more captivating." Toivoi was told about the Arts College and how it taught TV & Radio technique. He was there the very next day to join.
Audio Clip: Toivoi

 

Lucia says she wants to be on TV every day. "I love acting and presenting in radio production. It allows me to express myself. I like creative and active people."
Audio Clip: Lucia

I know when I hear the voices of Lucia, Amore, Joachim and Toivoi, I will once again be transported to the Katatura Community Arts Centre and feel again the rush of pride and the sense of privilege that I have been given the opportunity to work in such an environment.

Certainly, I have seen the poverty, the HIV/Aids and been confronted with aspects of racial intolerance. But the overwhelming sense I have of Africa is of a continent confident that it can become a major global player.

Katatura Community Centre
Katatura Community Centre

I hope when you hear the voices of Namibia you too will feel this confidence and want to hear more from the Africa Lives on the BBC season. And all I can say is that if anyone gives you the chance to work in an African country – jump at it. The worst that can happen is that all the stereotypes and preconceptions you have been carrying around with you will be banished for ever. I know mine were!

Paul Moore

 


See also: Maud Kells, nearly 40 years of missionary work in Congo

 

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