The Ombetja Yehinga Organization Trust is inviting the public to the opening of an audio and photographic exhibition on 13 August 2022, 18:00 at the Goethe-Institut Namibia Auditorium. Entry is free. Produced by 110 girls and 110 boys in the Ohangwena and Omusati regions, the collection of photographs depicts men in the Namibian society as caring individuals, who step beyond the stereotype of violent and abusive persons. This project and exhibition is funded by Embassy of Finland in Namibia, and the production of a catalogue and exhibition hosting is supported by the Embassy of Japan in Namibia, UNFPA and the Goethe-Institute Namibia.

“OYO in 2005 initiated the photographic project, The Caring Namibian Man, to challenge the stereotype that all men are rapists, abusive and violent. The first round of the project featured at the 2007 Grahamstown Arts Festival. Photographs and postcards were produced and featured men performing tasks that are not normally associated with the masculine gender such as bathing children and stomping mahangu. Sadly, little has changed and gender-based violence remains an issue in Namibia because there is not one week that passes without tales of GBV on our newspapers,” said OYO Director Philippe Talavera. He explained that the frequent media reports depict men as perpetrators and women and children as the victims, which is not always the case.

Aug 22 Philippe

“OYO earlier this year held weekend camps at schools in the two regions. We taught the girls and boys how to use a camera and various skills of photography before they established clubs in their schools to talk about social issues and identify opportunities for them to take photos of men in their communities who were in the action of performing kind acts to any other being,” said Talavera. A total of 4947 photos were received before 30 boys and girls were tasked to select the 42 photos that form the final exhibition.

Its opening at the Goethe-Institut Namibia will feature the launch two poems, ‘be a lady’ and ‘be a man’ written by learners and based on what people feel is expected of them in their communities. The poems are performed by Mary Jane Andreas, Roya Diehl, Sydney Farao, Monray Garoeb, Odile Gertze, Berry Goraseb, Nadula Hainane, Herman K. Hausiku, Jean-Louis Knouwds, Ashwyn Mberi, Jeffrey Ndjahera Fhulufhelo Ramphaga, Valerie Tjirimuje, and Adriano Visagie. The two short films had their international premiere in South Africa at the Garden Route International Film Festival last month. After its display at the Goethe-Institute Namibia that ends on 24 August 2022, the exhibition will tour schools to encourage a positive discussion about the role of men in society and for the youth to engage in discussions around the understandings of feminine and masculine genders.

“Caring men do not make the news and are left unseen as uncelebrated heroes. This is reflected in many matters encountered during the making of this project such as one incident in which learners wanted to photograph a man carrying the handbag of a lady while he was helping her but he refused. This is a sign for us to change the narrative and talk about healthy masculinity in which kindness is a strength and Namibia is a safer place for all,” said Talavera.

The opening includes a N$20 raffle for one of the photographs and a silent auction for another one.

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