I magine a land where children go zooming down city streets on the discarded remains of car fenders, a little girl smiles up into the face of a stranger while cooking a meal over an open fire and a toddler rides in a battered Pepsi crate tied to the back of her father’s bicycle. Imagine Namibia.
A Day in the Life of Namibia on Africa Day, to be precise, which is nothing short of a visually spectacular photographic competition and exhibition showcasing our country as seen through the lenses of amateur and professional photographers currently on show at Studio 77 and sponsored by The Namibian newspaper.
In a delightful example of synchronised creativity entrants were asked to submit striking digital images taken on Africa Day in the hope that their contribution would not only satisfy their own photographic ambitions but speak to local judges in terms of technical merit, subject matter, composition, storytelling, impact and uniqueness in pursuit of a healthy cash prize.
With an assortment of images featuring landscapes, lizards, Luderitz, loafers and more, judges were hard-pressed to find a winner but somehow amidst all the beauty our land offers the fairest of them all were the children – laughing, playing, smiling children.
Dune Jumping, the winning photograph by Christine Koch was perhaps the most unique representation of our nation’s youth in that they seemed to be completely absent from the composition as three boys ploughed so playfully down a dune that they rendered themselves invisible in their transformation into one-footed dust devils.
Walda Smile the crowd favourite and winner of second place for Morné Coetzee, featured a bright smiling young girl in a red dress sitting on an upturned pot plant while cooking a meal over an open fire. In as much Coetzee’s composition was a triumph of charisma and captioning in his sage statement that “Children are our most important asset so let them smile so tomorrow they will rule Africa with that same smile.”
Christie Kuelder‘s Oh Shit! was as colourful a composition as the name suggested and captured a group of boys zooming down a hill in Katutura aboard bits of car fender and plastic in what he perceived to be a playful manifestation of our children’s indomitable spirit and ability to have fun irrespective of circumstance.
Kuelder was also the winner of Best Portfolio which was awarded to the photographer who told the best story overall and was consistent in compositional appeal.
Talk in Session an image by Henrike Meyer placed fourth and depicted an ever-so-serious group of children holding a meeting in front of a chicken pen and corrugated iron shack as a boy who may or may not find himself as a self-appointed Minister of Confectionery held tightly to a lollipop.
As far as the review within the review is concerned this year’s offering was said to be much better than the last and studio owner and renowned photographer Tony Figueira believes there has been a marked improvement in quantity, quality and the depth of thought put into entries.
To be sure upon viewing A Day in the Life of Namibia on Africa Day you will see myriad and magnificent landscapes, waterscapes, wildlife and township life but what will linger is the face of our children.
Those bright, shining flares of hope smile not because they live in the bliss of ignorance but simply because they believe in a better tomorrow.
The exhibition runs until 31 August and images printed on canvas are for sale at the cost of N$1000.