HOW DID I END UP IN NAMIBIA?

I was working in the HUB co-working place in Tampere, year 2011. I met Jutta George there as she had just finished her studies in the Proakatemia business school and was looking for ways to get back to Namibia which she loved so much!

TAMK Proakatemia is an academy of new knowledge and expertise where the students learn about entrepreneurship in team enterprises. At the beginning of their studies, students establish a real company, usually a cooperative, that is the foundation of all studies.

This model they had exported to Polytechnic of Namibia and Jutta had been an advisor over there, as part of her studies. I always wanted to go to Africa and was a strong believer in this kind of team entrepreneurship. Jutta told me how bold and brave the students were there and how they had formed the first co-operative ever in Namibia besides farming co-operatives. 

We got TAMK to support us and off we went to make a short documentary for them about this education model in Namibia and its suitability there. Laura Tiainen, another student joined us as the main cameraperson.

I never imagined how long it is to fly all the way to Namibia across the African continent! When we arrived the light was as beautiful as I had imagined, almost magical!  We had Jutta´s friend to host us and drive us around Windhoek. I shortly learned that this was the best arrangement we made, carrying expensive equipment with us. Only once I was to lose our mics as I was so taken by the colorful market scene and forgot to hold tightly to my recorder which had all mics in the side pocket.

FROZEN IN NAMIBIA?

Being a documentarist and an introvert is not a good combination. It turned out that students were really lively as stereotypic it sounds, when we think of Africans’ way of living. My role was to scriptwrite, record audio and direct and I went completely silent couple of times in the middle of filming periods. Luckily Jutta was very comfortable there and saved me by being a good communicator and a fun member of the team.

HOW DID ALL FILMING GO?

We started by following their final exams which was to innovate and improve the city market area to better serve its vendors. Plemjive student team had 24 hours to complete the task and it was fun to film their meetings with heated arguments over poverty and its origins as well as endless ideas to solve the problem. They got the best grade possible and that immediately sparked running and jumping and celebrating loudly in the room.

We all then went to the coastal town of Swakopmund by school bus which we waited to arrive for 2 days. Learned this is very normal. Many had never seen the sea before! It was all fun playing games and telling stories. I got to know students a bit better and we decided to film in their homes to get a deeper understanding of their possibilities as future young entrepreneurs.

One woman, Sonya especially stood up as she was also taking care of her siblings besides studying (and soon alone as her mother died soon after) and had started school by walking there from a poorer area of Windhoek. She had no lunch ever with her and got support from other students. Everyone was full of ideas and skills to start working and many were later employed by the city.

We also filmed the AIDS Awareness day campaign they organized. It was again full of laughter and dancing! I felt really sorry that our time there was so short. I tried to grab every interview I could and record all the greatness I saw and felt coming from these young students. We also filmed with Cabinet Reshuffle collective, rappers making music and talking about the future of Namibia they wished for.

AND WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

Back in Finland we immediately started negotiating for bigger funding to go back and throughly follow the life of these new entrepreneurs. I had an idea to do the documentary as real co-operation so that a couple of them would have started filming their daily life already showing what they wanted to tell about their challenges. But we never got the funding! We ended up making an 18-minute-long documentary which TAMK was very happy about. Laura fell so much in love with Namibia that she immediately moved there and soon got married!

HOW DID ALL FILMING GO?

We started by following their final exams which was to innovate and improve the city market area to better serve its vendors. Plemjive student team had 24 hours to complete the task and it was fun to film their meetings with heated arguments over poverty and its origins as well as endless ideas to solve the problem. They got the best grade possible and that immediately sparked running and jumping and celebrating loudly in the room.

We all then went to the coastal town of Swakopmund by school bus which we waited to arrive for 2 days. Learned this is very normal. Many had never seen the sea before! It was all fun playing games and telling stories. I got to know students a bit better and we decided to film in their homes to get a deeper understanding of their possibilities as future young entrepreneurs.

One woman, Sonya especially stood up as she was also taking care of her siblings besides studying (and soon alone as her mother died soon after) and had started school by walking there from a poorer area of Windhoek. She had no lunch ever with her and got support from other students. Everyone was full of ideas and skills to start working and many were later employed by the city.

We also filmed the AIDS Awareness day campaign they organized. It was again full of laughter and dancing! I felt really sorry that our time there was so short. I tried to grab every interview I could and record all the greatness I saw and felt coming from these young students. We also filmed with Cabinet Reshuffle collective, rappers making music and talking about the future of Namibia they wished for.

AND WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

Back in Finland we immediately started negotiating for bigger funding to go back and throughly follow the life of these new entrepreneurs. I had an idea to do the documentary as real co-operation so that a couple of them would have started filming their daily life already showing what they wanted to tell about their challenges. But we never got the funding! We ended up making an 18-minute-long documentary which TAMK was very happy about. Laura fell so much in love with Namibia that she immediately moved there and soon got married!

Namibia´s Young Entrepreneurs
Can entrepreneurship change Namibia? What can future Africa look like if young people can put their ideas into practise?

In collaboration with: TAMK, Tampere University of Applied Science, Finland
Script, directing, audio: Seija Hirstiö / Heartwavesdesign.com  
Camera, editing: Laura Tiainen
Research, contacts, additional camera, voice overs: Jutta George
Sound design: Hanna-Mari Suutari
2011

LAND OF THE BRAVE – short video of my good memories from the trip
Edited: Seija Hirstiö / Heartwavesdesign.com   2011

Seija Hirstiö
Documentarist
Designer
Artist
Contact
seija(at)heartwavesdesign.com

I have expressed myself visually since early youth, with film, photography, online videos, graphic design, web design and performance art.

Please see my visual portfolio for web sites and videos here.

 

I have expressed myself visually since early youth, with film, photography, online videos, graphic design, web design and performance art.

Please see my visual portfolio for web sites and videos here.

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