Ondangwa revives Ohandje art centre

31 August 2016 | Art and Entertainment

The newly-proclaimed Ondangwa Urban Constituency is considering exploring opportunities left by Ohandje Artists Co-operative Ltd in their quest to create job opportunities. The Ohandje art centre became a white elephant in 2012 after a Swedish organisation through the European Union stopped funding the centre, leaving about 2 500 members in the cold. Officials from the new constituency are now trying to revive the centre.
Ohandje Artists Cooperative Ltd was established in 2005 in Ondangwa attracted artists - mostly women - from Oshana, Ohangwena, Oshikoto and Omusati regions.
It, however, closed down in 2012 due to financial constraints.
“We are faced with high unemployment rate in the region and in the constituency while at the same time we have a centre that is standing and not operational,” said Elia Irimari the Ondangwa Urban Constituency councillor.
“I have spoken to the old bearers of the office and they are supporting the idea and currently we are looking for about four or five volunteers to take charge of the centre.”
Irimari said his office would like to assist so that the centre reopens as a fully-fledged art centre that will incorporate all the components.
Before it closed down, the project was assisting communities of the northern regions to maintain using traditional methods in the creation of baskets and clay pots, among others.
Each year, the cooperative made provision for its members to be trained in pottery and basketry by experts in the field.
Supporting the idea of reopening the centre is 73-year-old Leena David who hails from Ongwediva.
David has over 30 years of experience in pottery and was also a trainer at the centre.
She said business was good for them when Ohandje was operational but now they are suffering.
“It was a good and easy business for us.
We didn’t think of customers only for production.
Once your products are done, you take them there, and then they will only call you to collect your money.
Many visitors from other countries used to visit the centre to buy our products.
For now we are on our own,” she said.
David said the cooperative closed down due to lack of funds.
“When the funding stopped we found ourselves unable to fund the project activities.
The upcoming craft women are the most affected as it is very difficult for them to find a market.
I am asking for the government through the ministry responsible of art to take ownership of the place if they are serious with their commitment in fighting poverty.”


ILENI NANDJATO

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