Jaques Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja
During our stay in Windhoek we visited the performance „Eenganga: Translations and Trance_formations“ a „healing ritual“ composed by Jacques Nashilongweshipwe Mushaandja. (Eenganga) The piece is drawing from ethnographic material and indigenous storytelling forms derived from conservations and consultations with black urban traditional healers in Katutura. Jacques is taking the personal experience as a black male performer as a starting point. His major objective is to decolonize both the making and experience of post-colonial theater making. This became visible by the transgression of dichotomies like male/female, humans/non-humans and dead/alive.
We met Jacques again for breakfast talking about theater-making in Namibia and how it is related to post-colonial issues. Jacques studied ethnography and drama at University of Witwatersrand, South Africa. Currently he is working at the “John Muafangejo Art Gallery” a local community art gallery. Jacques work includes organizing exhibitions of residence artists. For example, the piece „Sitting under the tree” is a communal theater projects. The basic idea is that decolonization is everyone’s business. According to Jacques African cultures are very embodied. Everything is/was in the body. So, the way stories were being told “under the tree” can be understood as an archive.
Then we talked about transformation, decolonizing and re-identifying public spaces. According to Jacques this means “that we have to recreate our spaces into what we think we are”. For example, the Christuskirche is being advertised as a tourist attraction: “But this is not our heritage. This is not were our story begin”. Another example is the statue of Curt von François, a Schutztruppe officer and commissioner in former German South-West Africa, remembered as the founder of Windhoek. Jacques argues that “It was put there to show primacy, it was put there to mind us. (…) We need to create places were we put these statues. not in the public but to be accessible. (…) we need to find places for them were they can be accessed by those who want to see them. But they mustn’t be rubbed into our face everyday 25 years after independence”.
Jacques argues that decolonization needs to be part of the curriculum at schools and universities in Namibia. Especially there is a need to study critical race theory and post-colonial theory. The project “Divers.City“ is a site-specific project were students carry out art in the public space. Work is based on an archaeologically understanding of the specific historicity of spaces.
Also, Jacques is part of a band making Southern African jazz music: Jacques Mushaandja & the Tschuku Tschukus.