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ǂAONI //AES

A THEATRE PRODUCTION ON THE TALE OF THE ≠AONIN (TOPNAAR) PEOPLE OF NAMIBIA.

The National Theatre of Namibia (NTN) through its co-production program proudly announces the upcoming theatre production “ǂAoni //Aes,” a tale of the Topnaar people (ǂAonin) of Namibia. Written and directed by NTN’s Artistic Director, Nelago Shilongoh, this production seeks to portray the rich heritage of the ǂAonin people, their deep connection to the Namibian coastline, historical experiences and contemporary issues faced such as access to decision-making particularly in ocean governance and land management.

ǂAonin //Aes” will be performed in the Erongo and Khomas regions between 12 June and 20 July 2024. The production is supported by the One Ocean Hub programme funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), and is presented in partnership with the University of Namibia (UNAM).

About the Production:

The production features Namibian theatre actors Dawie Engelbrecht, Chantell /Uiras (Diolini), and Hazel Hinda, who have worked closely with the ǂAonin in interviews, discussions, and consultative presentations. Together with writer and director Nelago Shilongoh, they have devised an impactful and immersive theatre work that invites audiences into the heritage and experiences of the ǂAonin. Learn more about the cast here.

“This is a story that will touch many Namibians, as it echoes much of our shared experience of displacement and inaccessibility. At the same time, it is also a celebratory gathering, reminding us of the rich ecological and cultural backgrounds we come from. We invite Namibians from different walks of life to witness and reflect on this story.”

Nelago Shilongoh

The story is set within a family context, where audiences follow a mother, father, and daughter, Khoendikhoes, as they travel through time to present the heritage and history of the ǂAonin people. Audiences witness the parents depicting the beautiful landscape and rich history of the ǂAonin until Khoendikhoes, eager to learn more about her people and sensitive by nature, is troubled by nightmares of the atrocities witnessed by the ǂAonin during colonial occupation. Khoendikhoes eventually wakes up from her visions and nightmares to the realities of the current government. The family then raises issues that the ǂAonin are currently facing and explores the collaborative way forward between the community and leadership.

Through the partnership with UNAM, One Ocean Hub Namibia aims to learn from those who rely on the ocean, understanding the pressing challenges facing marine ecosystems, and ensuring that the blue economy supports sustainable ‘blue’ communities. This collaboration can contribute to the ongoing development of a policy and action plan for Namibia’s sustainable blue economy.

“The partnership with the NTN offers an opportunity to enhance our action on transdisciplinary research methods. Non-academic actors become key agents in the ocean research process, informing stakeholders about the management of the Namibian ocean. The artistic approach engages stakeholders to revive spiritual and cultural connections to the ocean through art, storytelling, and theatre. This methodology can assist One Ocean Hub Namibia in reaching diverse policymakers and integrating marginalized voices into policy and ocean governance spaces.”

One Ocean Hub Namibia Country Director, Professor Alex Kanyimba

The ǂAonin’s cultural livelihoods have always depended heavily on ocean resources, livestock, and the harvesting of the !nara melon endemic to the Namib Desert. Historically, they were forcibly displaced from their coastal dwellings, with access to marine resources restricted through legal and colonial exclusion processes. They continue to be excluded from decision-making in contemporary Namibia. The community now resides in 14 farm settlements along the lower valley of the !Khuiseb River and in coastal urban centers.

“We cannot let the ǂAonin community suffer any longer without their rightful benefits. We hope this play will raise awareness and empower us to fight for justice and regain what is rightfully ours. Let’s stand together and make a difference!”

ǂAonin Traditional Authority, Acting Chief, Honorable Stoffel Anamab

 


“ǂAoni //Aes” will be staged for the general public and key stakeholders, fostering critical discussions and reflections to inform policy recommendations. The performances will be in English, Khoekhoegowab, and Afrikaans. The premiere will be held in Walvis Bay on June 12 at the Walvis Bay Municipal Hall and Narraville Community Hall, followed by performances in Swakopmund on June 13 at Coastal High School, and in Utuseb on June 14. In the Khomas region, the production will be staged at the Katutura Community Hall on June 21, concluding at the NTN’s Auditorium on July 19-20, 2024.


Ticket Information:

All shows are free to attend, with free tickets for the July 19th and 20th shows available starting July 1st, exclusively at NTN offices.

Contact Information:
For media inquiries, interviews, or press passes, please contact:

Ms. Desiree Mentor
National Theatre of Namibia, Public Relations Officer
Email: pro@ntn.org.na
Phone: 061 374 400
Mobile: 081 366 3255

For more information on the production, please see here.