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Local tourism meets foreign exploitation

Mon, 13 April 2015 13:05
by Jona Musheko

Namibians dressed
in their traditional
attire, who are tourist
attractions in Windhoek,
have complained about the
penny-pinching tourists
who exploit their tradition
for a picture on a postcard
but refuse to spare a dollar
for the shots.
Tourists from around
the world who visit
Namibia are renowned
for their appetite of taking
pictures alongside the
Himba or San individuals
to enhance and catalogue
their experiences in the
tourism-rich Namibia.
These same tourists
however, are responsible
for the exploitation of
these same indigenous
groups as they seldom
match their appetite to
have attractive pictures
with that of giving paying
these individuals for this
form of tourism, according
to the indigenous groups.
According to
Kaunongo Mbendura,
one of the OvaHimba
individual who are often
exploited said foreigners
do not like it when
they are being asked
to compensate these
individuals for featuring in
their Namibian adventures.
“Foreigners always
refuse to pay the amount
we ask them because they
say there are no signs
anywhere indicating that
when they take a picture
with or of us they should
pay,” says Kaunongo.
Kaunongo added
that apart from the few
traditional hand-made
necklaces they sell, they
also depends on tourists
that approach them
requesting to take them
pictures to make a living.
“They know they are
using us if they are not
paying anything,” she
said adding, “Why don’t
the foreigners go around
following other people in
the society? It is simply
because there is something
unique carried through
our ways of living. The
Afrikaners that come
from South Africa don’t
even respect us when they
approach us.”
She said they make
sure they are at their place
where they spent the entire
day selling and waiting
for tourists to pass by their
stalls as this is, according
to her, an opportunity
that should be considered
by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism.
“If only the Ministry
(Ministry of Environment
and Tourism) responsible
for tourism in the country
could introduce a law that
does not allow foreigners
to take pictures of us for
free,” she said.
“It is a fact that tourism
is one of the sector that
makes a big contribution
to the economy of the
country but if they have
to come here and not
respecting or doing what
will also help the people
of Namibia grow, then
it makes no sense. They
come here and take
pictures of us and give us
pennies. Some of them
won’t even pay N$5 for a
Meanwhile, there are
local business people
who sell various handmade
wooden products
at one place where some
Himba also conduct their
photographing business.
They sell their products
mostly to foreigners
and few local people.
A businesswoman, who
is also the sole breadwinner
in her family,
Peneyambeko Nghifinwa,
said tourists hardly visit
the place to buy what they
are selling because the
area is not neat as the road
is full of potholes that are
filled with water and it is
keeping their customers
“We depend on the
tourists that come here
and buy our things but
the place does not look
clean at all. It does not
look like we pay for this
place,” she said. She said
the tents that are made
available by Municipality
are not helping when it is
raining, adding that they
always have to pack up
their things to avoid any
damage from rain water.
Nghifinwa suggested
that Municipality needs to
understanding the nature
of their business because
it is based on the inflow
of tourist visiting their
“Sometimes a week
can pass by without
getting one customer but
then I receive a letter
from City of Windhoek
that says I must pay an
outstanding amount of
N$1584.77 for using this