During the 1960’s border war between Namibia (SWAPO) and South Africa (SADF), thousands of young people from the northern part of Namibia left their villages and cross the border into Angola, to be trained as SWAPO PLAN combatants. Young men and women dropped out of schools and joined SWAPO, with the promise of educational opportunities. This artwork retraces my parents and all of their comrades’ footsteps on this journey that they had treaded on, as young people who left their villages and families behind to fight a war. I imagined them leaving Namibia in secrecy, as not to anger their parents and as a collective within their minds, these were their parting words: ‘’ Kaleipo nawa, oha tutala ngaa kutya otashi ka xhulila peni’’. I thought of fearful youth, tremulous for leaving their homesteads without the blessings of their parents, and without having to eat the ‘’ traveler’s meal’’ of Mahangu porridge and dried wild spinach (evanda).  They marched on, with the hope that their parents would keep the sacred fires at the ‘’olupale’’ burning, as a signal for their return, one day. When I was a young child living at the Nyango Refugee camp in Zambia, I vividly recall my mother hopping on a bicycle with all of her intimate possessions tied up in a small bundle, that was firmly secured on the rack of the bike.  I immediately registered that she was leaving, she then began cycling away, and I started crying for her, begging for her not to go, not to leave me behind. As children, this was our reality, our parents left us behind, within the boundaries of the refugee camps, as they ventured on for educational opportunities overseas. Some of our parents returned to us after a couple of years; sometimes, it would be the very last time we would see them, and some of them listened to the whispering fire at the ‘’olupale’’, summoning them to return home.
Acquired from Guns and Rain Art, Johannesburg, South Africa

April 2020 - April 2020

The Borders of Memory | Guns & Rain (Online)

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June 2020 - June 2020

The Borders of Memory | The Borders of Memory The Project Room, Windhoek, Namibia

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Tuli Mekonjo's Bellowing Mind | The Namibian

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