Independence Memorial Museum (Namibia)

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Independence Memorial Museum
General information
TypeHistorical museum
Coordinates22°34′08″S 17°05′17″E / 22.5688°S 17.0881°E / -22.5688; 17.0881Coordinates: 22°34′08″S 17°05′17″E / 22.5688°S 17.0881°E / -22.5688; 17.0881
Groundbreaking2011
Inaugurated21 March 2014
Height40 metres (130 ft)
Technical details
Floor count5
Lifts/elevators1
Design and construction
Architecture firmMansudae Overseas Projects
Sam-Nujoma-Monument in front of the museum
Sam-Nujoma-Statue in the Independence Memorial Museum
Independence Memorial Museum, Aerial view (2017)

The Independence Memorial Museum is a historical museum in Windhoek, Namibia. It focuses on the anti-colonial resistance and the national liberation struggle of Namibia. The museum is located on Robert Mugabe Avenue and was designed and built by Mansudae Overseas Projects, a North Korean firm. The museum was inaugurated on March 21, 2014, the twenty-fourth anniversary of independence of the country, by President Hifikepunye Pohamba.[1] The museum is flanked by two statues: the Sam Nujoma Statue and the Genocide Statue, also built by Mansudae. The Sam Nujoma Statue sits on the site of the German-era Reiterdenkmal equestrian statue.[2][3]

Naming[edit]

The name of the proposed museum was subject to considerable debate from the time of its proposal. Usutuaije Maamberua, president of South West Africa National Union (SWANU), proposed the name "Genocide Remembrance Centre", in recognition of the site being known as Orumbo rua Katjombondi, or "a place of horror" in the Otjiherero language.[4]

Location[edit]

The Independence Memorial Museum is located on Robert Mugabe Avenue between two buildings of the German colonial period, the Christuskirche and the colonial citadel, the Alte Feste. The museum sits on a small slope between the two structures, and according to the historian Reihard Kossler, has broken up the ensemble of German monuments in Windhoek.[5] In sharp contrast to the German colonial architectural style of the existing historical structures, the Independence Memorial Museum is built in the North Korean socialist realist style, symbolic of the "modernist, post-colonial state."[4]

Structure[edit]

The museum structure consists of a five-story triangular glass structure and was planned with four equal walls of 40 metres (130 ft) reaching a height of at least 40 metres (130 ft). It features a glass-fronted elevator at its front. The first floor, titled "Colonial Repression", commemorates early resistance leaders of Namibia and the timeline of the country under South African rule. The second floor, titled "Liberation", commemorates the South African Border War and the role of the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN) during that conflict. The third floor, titled "Road to Independence", details the activities of SWAPO, United Nations Security Council Resolution 435, and includes a viewing platform of the Panoramic Hall of the museum.[2] The last floor (fourth floor) accessible by visitors is the restaurant, known as the NIMS restaurant, from which there are views over the city.

Interior[edit]

Sam Nujoma Statue[edit]

A bronze statue in the North Korean style commemorating Sam Nujoma is placed prominently at the front of the museum. In the statue Nujoma faces towards Windhoek and holds a copy of the Constituency Book, the Constitution of Namibia. It is located on the site of the Reiterdenkmal equestrian statue, which stood on the hill for 102 years. The Reiterdenkmal statue was considered controversial after the independence of Namibia; some in the country viewed it as symbol of colonial oppression.[2] Others, primarily from the German-speaking community in Namibia, saw any alteration of the statue as a violation of the Namibian Heritage Act of 2004, which outlines the procedures to protect national heritage sites in Namibia.[6] The Reiterdenkmal statue was removed in 2013 and is now located in the courtyard of the Alte Feste Museum.[2]

Genocide Statue[edit]

The Genocide Statue sits south of the Nujoma memorial. It depicts the 'untold hardships and suffering' at the hands of the Schutztruppe, the troops of the German colonial empire during the 1904–07 war. The statue depicts a man and woman in embrace, symbolizing freedom. The couple stand atop a rendering of a traditional Namibian residence. The concrete brick base of the memorial has the inscription "Their Blood Waters Our Freedom" in raised black letters.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pohamba, Hifikepunye (20 Mar 2014). Statement by His Excellency Dr Hifikepunye Pohamba, President of the Republic of Namibia on the Ocassion [sic] of the Inauguration of The Genocide Memorial Statue, The Sam Nujoma Statue and The Independence Memorial Museum. Windhoek, Namibia: Republic of Namibia. Retrieved 2016-09-17.
  2. ^ a b c d e Rhodes, Fifi (2014-03-24). "President unveils Independence Memorial, Nujoma Statue". New Era. Windhoek, Namibia: NEPC. Retrieved 2016-09-07.
  3. ^ Salami, Gitti (2013). "Postindependence Architecture through North Korean Modes: Namibian Commissions of the Mansudae Overseas Project". A companion to modern African Art. Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell. ISBN 9781444338379.
  4. ^ a b Silvester, Jeremy (2015). Re-viewing Resistance in Namibian History. Windhoek, Namibia: University of Namibia Press. p. 289. ISBN 9789991642277.
  5. ^ Kossler, Reinhart (2015). Namibia and Germany: Negotiating the Past. Windhoek: UNAM Press. p. 148. ISBN 9789991642093.
  6. ^ "Groups defend genocide symbol". Windhoek Observer. Windhoek, Namibia: Paragon Media Group. 2014-03-27. Retrieved 2016-09-21.