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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Commemorating heroes in Windhoek and Eenhana: memory, culture and nationalism in Namibia, 1990-2010
Author:Becker, Heike
Periodical:Africa: Journal of the International African Institute (ISSN 0001-9720)
Geographic term:Namibia
national liberation struggles
Abstract:In postcolonial Namibia public memory of the liberation war prioritizes the armed struggle from exile. This master narrative of national liberation, having become the new nation's foundation myth, legitimizes the power of the postcolonial SWAPO elite as the sole, heroic liberators from apartheid and colonialism. It has not remained uncontested, however. The article develops the complex transfigurations of liberation war memory, culture and nationalism in postcolonial Namibia around a discussion of two memory sites. The National Heroes' Acre near Windhoek, inaugurated in 2002, appears as the cast-in-stone nationalist master narrative, aimed at homogenizing the multifaceted agencies during the liberation war, whereas the Heroes' Memorial Shrine at Eenhana, constructed in 2007, expressly recognizes the heterogeneity of war-time experiences. The Eenhana site further gives visual expression to recent Namibian unity-in-diversity discourses, which have followed, and partly been running alongside, a period of ideational emphasis on nationbuilding, based on a national culture supposedly forged through the nation's joint struggle against oppression and colonialism. The author argues that the social processes of remembering and forgetting political resistance, on the one hand, and those of cultural reinvention in the new nation on the other, are entangled, and that both registers of imagining the Namibian nation have shifted since the country's independence in 1990. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in English and French. [Journal abstract]