Omagano Kankondi

A Journey into Indigenous Knowledge & Design

In this episode, we head off to Namibia to dive deep into its culture and indigenous knowledge. We examine how different communities approach life, done through a series of boot camps in the informal sector facilitated by UNDP and the Namibian Government. Omagano talks about the UNDP accelerator lab and how they work with market vendors to connect them to buyers through a digitized system during the pandemic. She further expands on some of the unique cultural differences found only in Namibia. Join us on this stop of our creative tour of Afrika to find out what they are.

*For the best experience, please use a headset/earphones.

LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/3bmMkNW

Music by: Ngalah Oreyo (@ngalah_oreyo) and Mercy Barno (@merc.b_)

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Hosts (A/N): Welcome to the second season of Afrika design, where we are going further and deeper with our creative tour of Afrika. 

[00:00:06] Here we uncover stories behind the culture of design problems, systems, and solutions. 

[00:00:12] We're making our way around the continent through conversations with a diverse range of experts and creatives. 

[00:00:19] You can track your journey with us on the website, africa.design, where there's a map of all the countries, visited so far. 

[00:00:26] Time and effort is put in to make sure that this show is as accessible and inclusive as possible. Transcripts can be found on the website as well as more information about the guests and samples of their work for your reference. 

[00:00:41] If you want to know what else we do besides the podcast, head to nairobidesignweek.com, where we run a design studio and an annual design festival with the community. Always feel welcome to send us a message or leave a review. It means a lot. 

[00:00:54] On this episode, we tour Namibia through Omagano Kankondi. A product designer and innovation enthusiast. Who's passionate about the interplay between design thinking, research, development, and socially responsible solutions. We covered the design and innovation processes of indigenous knowledge from specific homestead designs to cooling water without a fridge. 

[00:01:16] We also delve into the methodology they use at UNDP accelerator lab Namibia, to solve problems. such as successfully connecting informal vendors to an e-commerce platform during the covid pandemic Welcome to Afrika Design, a creative tour of Afrika. 

[00:01:33] African names, tend to have meanings. And if you've listened to the show before you might've noticed, we tend to ask our guests what their name means. 

[00:01:42] Omagano Kankondi: My name is Omagano. It means gifts, plural. Okay, the one on my certificate says Omagano but the full is Omagano Gakarunga, so God's gifts.

[00:01:51] Kankondi is actually, how do you say it in English? It was like a nickname for my great-great-grandfather. So, it was not originally our surname. Our surname, I think it's supposed to be, Shipena, but then they started going by the nickname and then just became our surname.

[00:02:04] Hosts (A/N): The subject of tribes and ethnicity in Africa is fascinating with Africa having around 3000 tribes. Omagano shared what tribe she comes from and what other major tribes there are in Namibia.

[00:02:16] Omagano Kankondi: I'm a Oshiwambo.

[00:02:18] I think they're about 13, currently, my tribe is the largest. But it wasn't always the case because Ovaherero people were the largest, but then there was the genocide. 

[00:02:29] A lot of them were killed and a lot of them moved out of the country and a lot of them moved to Botswana. And unfortunately, that's how we ended up being the largest, it wasn't always the case though. 

[00:02:39] Adrian/Naitiemu: How did you get on your design journey where you studied industrial design? Where did that come from? And then how did that push you in your career?

[00:02:47] Omagano Kankondi: I've always known what I wanted to do. I just didn't know there was a name for it. I was always curious about how did things come to look the way they do, I remember specifically there was, I was doing my hair and I had a hairdryer. It was just so uncomfortable. And I think I was in grade 8 or something. It was too slippery. It was not ergonomically designed, whatever. I would get frustrated at stuff like, and then you start sketching. Like if only it looked like this, it would

be better.

[00:03:12] And then at home, I would take apart stuff like an iron to see how all the little things came together, and I was just intrigued. But like I said, this whole time, I didn't

know there was a name for something like this. And then I read a magazine. It was very popular in South Africa.

[00:03:26] I think they still do it. It's called the YOU magazine. Right. And there was this article about this lady, you know what, actually, I have to find her name because she's the reason I actually found the name for what I'm doing and found the course. So, she was just talking about how, you know, she had a brain tumor or something, and she

survived and, you know, she studied industrial design at... it was called Cape Tech at the time.

[00:03:47] I went, I will search what this industrial design is because I've never heard it. It took me to the link for Cape Tech. At the time it was Cape Peninsula University. I read I was like, oh my goodness. This is exactly what I want to do. And then I applied. I

applied on the spot and then I started putting my portfolio together.

[00:04:07] That's exactly how it started. And then I got in and I think I had to even go to Cape town to write a test. I knew I always wanted to study in Cape Town. And then it just came together that the course was in Cape Town and it's exactly what I wanted to do.

[00:04:22] I was unprepared for Industrial Design. Like, I didn't know. When you get to prospective drawing, like what, I didn't come for this.

[00:04:32] I didn't come for this. I want to like design nice chairs and you know, all of this, what is all this maths and angles and all of that.

[00:04:40] So I was, oh my gosh, that first year I was really overwhelmed and just, I feel like I was playing catch up the whole time. And then, Mugendi was there but at the time he wasn't really one of... I think first year he was there, but I only got to have classes with him. I think like second, or third year.

[00:04:57] He totally totally changed my perspective, my direction, and, really where I am right now. I'm so grateful to him because he started having conversations with me that sparked interest outside of just tables, chairs, and stuff, you know? And I mean, yes, we do need people who do do that.

[00:05:16] But for me, when the conversation I started having with him just gave me more meaning. It allowed me to connect to the knowledge that I have from home. I think it gave me a different identity within the group. Wow. I can't thank him enough, honestly. He really just guided me in this direction about community and Ubuntu and

design for people and communities that are at risk of not just poverty. A whole host of challenges. My first project that was like, okay, I really want to do this forever. As I was looking at design for people with disabilities. So, I would send him ideas and I had multiple ideas about what I wanted to do.

[00:05:54] So he was able to kind of help me filter it a little bit down to focus on one thing. And then from there, I was more interested in design against crime and he was my supervisor for both, and I never looked back.

[00:06:07] Adrian/Naitiemu: It's interesting how you say you got into product design or you first heard of it. My story is kind of similar in that I was picking, I guess A levels, and looking through career books and knowing that I've always wanted to make stuff and all these products around us, but didn't know the name.

[00:06:24] So then once you open that career book and see product design. That's kind of how it, it got me going.

[00:06:30] Omagano Kankondi: Awesome. 

[00:06:31] Adrian/Naitiemu: You've mentioned that a big part of what made you rethink or rejuvenate your career also is the way of thinking around design and community. How would you say design is related to a community, specific to your community?

[00:06:47] Omagano Kankondi: At the time before I got to the rejuvenation of, yeah. Design, I always connected it to Western. It was more a western thing, culture, or it was from the West to us. I didn't realize we had it here. And then now when I started thinking about it more I realize, okay, we actually do have it here.

[00:07:04] And it's all in our patterns, in the work that we do. In our visual work. It's how we tell stories. Example, with my tribe and we didn't have a written history, it was more of storytelling and visual. I started to see it at home, in our homestead. The way the house is designed. It's designed in a specific way.

[00:07:21] For example, for protection. The boy’s bedroom is at the front and then the woman's is at the back. And when you enter, there's a place for visitors to welcome them. They don't really go into your house. So, it was all really well thought out, but I

never saw it that way, you know, I never thought beyond that.

[00:07:38] When my eyes opened up more, I started to see it's in the clothes we had. It's in the way we actually cultivate our land and the way we position stuff. And so, it's everywhere really. And all that indigenous knowledge is actually visualized through a lot of things. It's been amazing for me actually, just to see it from a different angle and ask questions.

[00:08:02] One of my biggest passions now. And I'm trying to get into a Ph.D., is indigenous knowledge and our design process. Yes, we have many books and we are taught like the Western design process. Right. But we have our own. I want to find out what is the Awambo? What is our design process? What is our process of innovation?

[00:08:23] When we see there's a challenge? What do we follow to get to the solution? For example, one of our Himba people, they have red ocher mixed with goat fat that they use over their body and keeps them cool when it's hot and from my understanding, it also keeps them warm. 

[00:08:38] So how did we get from, oh my gosh, we need something to protect us to actually getting the red ocher and the goat fat you know, mixed. So, I'm very interested in that. 

[00:08:49] Adrian/Naitiemu: And red ocher is also used in other countries, right. But it's exactly, in Maasai. It's so prominent in Namibia. It's such a standout cultural thing. Maybe you can tell us more though, because of indigenous knowledge, really this podcast exists because of indigenous knowledge. So, we'd love to know as we keep meeting creatives from around the continent, trying to work with indigenous knowledge. What are some more of those examples? Cause it seems like you have a lot of examples. 

[00:09:16] Omagano Kankondi: My early life, I think until I was seven, I grew up with my grandparents. One of the things that I used to find very interesting is how you can keep things cool. Drinks, like water for example, without a fridge. You would dig a hole. You put it in water, you wetted the sand around it. You put it, the container in a hessian sack. You cover it. You put more water over it, it comes out ice cold. There was no need for a fridge or anything like that. There's also like a root that you chew. And it's amazing how, my grandfather would just go out and he picks it, then he would give it to me if I have a toothache or whatever. Unfortunately, I don't actually know how to identify it right now. But I know my mom and my siblings would know how to do it. Yeah, we have a lot of stuff from curing toothaches to natural contraceptives.

[00:09:57] There many things that we have. That's just there and it's going to die with our elderly people if we don't do something about it. So that's why I'm really trying to cover that in my Ph.D., which is another journey.

[00:10:08] Adrian/Naitiemu: We can come back to it. Right. But you mentioned clothes and interior designs and things like that. So maybe even just more, you wanted to talk about.

[00:10:17] Omagano Kankondi: You know, what is so interesting? And when I see like there's people becoming vegan and vegetarian and so forth. We really had a balanced diet because when I started comparing like how vegans eat and so forth to our diets. There’re some vegan meals that we do, I didn't even know we had, if you having like pop and spinach, I don't know what to call, what do you call pop in?

[00:10:39] You know. Yeah. So, if you have that with spinach, sometimes you just have bean stew, you know, and also meat wasn't all the time. Sugar was seasonal because of the fruits. You only got sugar from fruits. It was just not too much of anything. We have so much information, so much knowledge that other people now are catching on onto

but it's always been there and never really recognized. 

[00:11:03] Hosts (A/N): Omagano works at the UNDP accelerator lab, in Namibia. There are three of them on the team. The head of exploration. The head of experimentation, and herself, the head of solutions mapping. 

[00:11:14] Omagano Kankondi: We work really close together, especially with the head of experimentation. Because now when we've identified the challenge, we now get to speak with the people and do like, you know, focus groups and so forth with the people that are affected by it. Then we co-create a solution with the community. And then we come up with a portfolio of solutions as opposed to one. And then my colleague, the

experimenter, is now who design how would we test the solution if it works if it doesn't work. So, she comes up with the experiment.

[00:11:42] My area's really looking at doing that on the groundwork and ethnography and, you know collecting data from the people and setting up places and spaces to co-create with them. Then bring it back to our lab with the experimenter and then we test

it. We figure out what's the best way to test this solution.

[00:12:00] What is our question? What are we asking? What's the hypothesis that we have? How might we address challenges related to informality? You know what, let me actually speak about that project. One of the areas that I'm leading in is entrepreneurial ecosystem and informality. That's living conditions and that's also the economy. 

[00:12:16] So in 2020, when we went into the hard lockdown in March. There was a lot of media coverage around street vendors, for example, and how the hard lockdown is going to affect them because they're used to foot traffic and that was going to be gone.

[00:12:30] So we thought we were going to only be doing this for 20 or 21 days. We're going to be in a hard lockdown for 21 days. But even 21 days is a very long time to go without any form of income. And then just at around that time, there was an e-commerce platform that came up it's called Dambura.

[00:12:44] And we didn't really have a lot of e-commerce platforms like people would sell via Facebook and Instagram boutiques and shops and stuff like that. But I had not seen one like that in Namibia. We reached out to the startup and we asked, okay, can we just test this pilot of connecting vendors to an e-commerce platform?

[00:13:01] We started; I think with maybe 20 vendors. And the idea was the Tambula people could still move around because they were essential. So, you as a customer, you'd go onto the website, you order your fruits and veggies from your vendors. And then Tambula and their team would go collect it from the vendors, pay them and then come bring it to you.

[00:13:19] And then it worked so well. And we were like, wow. You know? And so, after that, we really got interested in just really how do we connect people who are previously disconnected from digital platforms and digital, anything really, to how do we connect them in a way that is beneficial to them?

[00:13:35] And this has also taken into account that the digital divide is so wide. So, this was a really good, if I say so myself, they didn't need any form of smartphone or anything like that. All of that was already in the hands of the people that already have

it. We've had a lot of interests and it just snowballed. After that, we had the Namibian informal sector organization.

[00:13:57] They're like, okay guys. You know what, we saw at you did. We have a lot of challenges. Please help us. This is our list of asks. Oh, by the way, one of the things with the lab, we supposed to work with unusual partners. Unusual for development

agencies because before it was really like development agencies and government. So, before UNDP was not really working with startups and informal sector organizations,

for example. 

[00:14:18] The Namibian informal sector organization came to us and they said; okay, here's our list. Because we have to first do our research. We needed actual data to back up why we doing certain initiatives? So, we commissioned a diagnostic study of the informal sector in Namibia across all 14 regions.

[00:14:33] And we got some rich data and also covered COVID 2019, like in the effect. And from what I understand from the consultant who put this together for us. It's the first of its kind in Africa also covering that, which is like, wow, you know. We just started off with this pilot and now we are here.

[00:14:48] And at the same time, the ministry of trade, it started developing a policy for the informal sector economy. And we have now put together a policy brief for them. So, we can include this information, this data that we have.

[00:15:00] When we go back to the pilot of Tambula. Speaking to our experimenter and say, okay, I think this could work. How do you think we can test it? What should we cover? Who should we speak to? Okay. We've got various areas. How do we include these people?

[00:15:13] And then it's like, okay, let's first just start with this and see what we can do. So that's really how we speak to each other with our work. Even in the informal settlement, we have a youth lab with 10 youths. That's our first cohort. And they're also

interested in entrepreneurship and it's very needs-based. Actually, the ideas that they have is to fulfill the needs that they have in a community. When people go into business in Africa, a lot of it is needs-based.

[00:15:35] They're left out of the formal ecosystem of start apps because they don't really fit as startups or people don't see them as startups? Because they're in the informal settlement. Often looked at as informally economy, even though they're not. So not a lot of people are looking at them and addressing their issues. So, what we doing in our experiment here is, how do we help them? How do we create a setup that

allows youth in informal settlements to get the same support for start-up businesses? How do we guide them in all of that?

[00:16:04] So what we did is we had a design thinking workshop with them and to identify challenges and just go through them. And get to a part where we've refined the challenges and so forth. And then we got them to do their own market research through journaling and using photos to say, okay, this would be my competitor. Okay, so there are this many customers that come in at this time, whatever. So, we got them to do that on their own. And without using words like market research because words

like that can be intimidating and they're usually just connected to the formal side of things. Right. We now try to use language that is... I don't know for lack of a better word, softer, and more descriptive of what you're actually doing and what you're going to do.

[00:16:43] So we trying to see how that'll work out. We can't actually finance them directly but we're an engagement facility. So, there are certain things that we can't do. We've been now trying to figure out what's the best way to give them capital, seed

capital. And just support. Mentorship, that's fine. But to get them off the ground with finances, how do we best do that in a way that won't get us in trouble with our headquarters? 

[00:17:05] One of our partners, the Namibian University of Science and Technology, the abbreviation is NEST. Through their tech hub, they'd developed a platform called NamStarter. Which is a crowdfunding platform just for the informal sector. So now what we going to do with the 10 youth... we're going to put their campaigns on the NamStarter so they could get funding that way.

[00:17:23] Often people in the informal economy don't need like 10,000 dollars. It's a minimum, maybe it's 5,000, but you can't go to the bank with no collateral to get that 5,000 dollars. I'm speaking Namibian dollars, so like 5,000 Rand. So, this is now an

experiment to see. Would this kind of setup, financing work, for the informal economy?

[00:17:42] Could it be the equivalent of banking. That kind of loan that you'd get. Is it supportive? Will our fellow countrymen get on board and support people? Now we found a way to be able to actually support them through this platform and I'm very excited to see how it works. We don't have anything like that here yet. 

[00:17:59] All our stuff, all the work that we're doing is interconnected. 

[00:18:01] Hosts (A/N): The other area that the UNDP accelerator lab covers is governance. 

[00:18:07] Omagano Kankondi: In order to help, we have to have the policies. We have to have strong and responsive institutions that can support the youth and the entrepreneurs and whoever's facing challenges. And that means capacitating our people in the government.

[00:18:20] That means if we want to reform government and have them thinking innovatively and through their policy designs and so forth. We need to capacitate our public servants, you know? Yeah. So, one of the things just to see like how everything's so connected, we have innovation champions. So, the office of the prime minister

put together a public sector innovation policy. And then we connected with them. They came to us and like, okay, we see that you're doing this kind of work. Can you please assist us in rolling this out? We can't adjust start rolling out. They have innovation champions. Let's train those innovation champions through the processes of design.

[00:18:53] We developed a toolkit, innovation toolkit, specifically for the government on how to go about, okay. This is the challenge in the Ministry of Home Affairs. These are the issues that we have. What is the challenge? Defining our challenge. What are the

drivers? Then to get to a hypothesis and come up with a prototype and test it. So that's what we've been doing since August last year we've trained over probably 150 public servants. And we're going to have two more training sessions this year and then we're going to hand over the toolkit to them. Right. Because we can hold hands until a certain point but we have to give it over to the government so they can roll it out.

[00:19:27] Our hope is, okay. We do this and hopefully, it has a ripple effect that when they come to now addressing these other challenges, they're feeling confident about: innovation and how to address it and coming up with solutions that are actually for the

people and by the people. 

[00:19:42] With the informal economy, it's just that people are overlooked. Right. They're overlooked. They kind of seem like, ah, you're not there. And no one is actually just talking to them. And I was honestly very ignorant about how interested they would be. And for me, that was actually a surprise, like, oh my gosh, you know what? Wow. We

just kind of painted everybody with the same brush. We always say like with design and design thinking, the people who are affected by the issue have the solutions. The narrative view is really what you'd hear about. Most of them have been saying they want the government to do something. But what I found is that people, they just need assistance. Some of them have already started but maybe it's not being scaled up.

[00:20:15] Adrian/Naitiemu: You mentioned that you had to change or approach it differently in terms of not using some big words so that people can understand what you're trying to communicate. Are there other things that you adjusted along the way, just so that you can accommodate people's way of life and approach?

[00:20:32] Omagano Kankondi: Yeah, we don't use words like ‘workshop’, because it puts people in a different space. So, we have a Bootcamp. Innovation Bootcamp. Because when they think of workshop: it's cinema style, someone is in front of you talking. So, it's just the methods that we use. We get the people to do activities themselves. We're not telling them anything. Oh, well we all, but you know, we don't do the talking really. We have minimal slides or presentations. Everything is writing and its exercise and then they put up their work themselves. So, if they're defining a challenge, we give them a piece of paper that gives them some instructions of how to do it. We use games to get them to loosen up a bit but also in that game playing, they are

seeing the knowledge. They are seeing the information come through gaming.

[00:21:13] They're coming up with solutions, right, then we put them up, and let's say on little post-its and so forth. And we do something called the gallery walk. So, you come through and you view the solutions as if you're in an art gallery and you see the

connection.

[00:21:25] And that's helping to be like, okay, actually you know what. Three of us have said this and the other three said this and it's interconnected. So it's visual, visual, visual. Not a lot of wording because it puts people in a certain state where they kind of

like overwhelmed with too much information. But when they're doing activities, when they're using their hands and so forth, then they're learning as they're going. The "Aha" moment is coming from them and their discussions. One of the things that we always highlight is collective intelligence, everybody has something to bring.

[00:21:53] And sometimes people don't feel so comfortable in the beginning and they wouldn't want to talk, but usually like by day two everybody's keen to discuss. And also, just things like, day 2, please come comfortably wear jeans, wear sneakers. Yes, we go there first day, you know, like, yes, we are serious people look at me wearing a suit, but by day 2 I'm like, I am coming with my sneakers and my jeans and my top. So, we try to make everything a little bit more casual and very practical. We've had to do that, especially with government. We tell them, we are not going to do things formally. We don't want anybody at a high table. So, we break down all those barriers that are there already that have been created by bureaucracy.

[00:22:29] People are more receptive to it. One of the learning labs that we have. We actually started on Monday. We said, no, we're going to have 40 people. And they've heard of the work that we've done in the innovation boot camp. We had 80 people. We were like, oh my gosh. This week we're going to have a hundred people that we're

training. Seeing that interest and then coming like really excited about the way we do things. So, I think our methods changing the way we do things and approach stuff has really helped us get buy-in and more interest from our partners in government.

[00:22:59] Hosts (A/N): Omagano works across the accelerator lab ecosystem. There are resources, knowledge, and methodology shared with other labs. 

[00:23:07] Omagano Kankondi: We are a learning network. We are supposed to be exchanging information between the labs so that we don't also duplicate efforts or we add to our knowledge. We are working on an innovation challenge for the informal sector. One of the pieces of information that came from the data from the diagnostic study was the structures. They're not conducive because let's say you're selling vegetables. You've got boxes that you pack out every morning and then you pack again in the evening. And health risk and all of that with vegetables and fruit and stuff like that. And also, they can't always be at the same spot, sometimes you can, sometimes you're not, and then you're harassed by the police or so forth. So, we were thinking. Okay, you know what? Let's look at point of sales, vending carts, and something

helpful to them. It will be like; we'd do a call out to the creative industry. They should go talk with the people and say, okay, what is it that you need? What would help you? And what would be efficient? And we're busy having discussions around this.

[00:23:56] I can't remember who from our network. They invited me to be on Twitter Spaces for conversation around the work that we're doing in the informal sector. So, it was us, our colleague from The Gambia and one from Uganda. When we were on it somebody from the UNDP in Peru was listening. They reached out to us and like, this is what we're doing in the informal economy on our side. We want to learn from you. 

[00:24:17] And then they had a challenge called ' innovate your market'. And I'm like, wow, that's what we want to be doing here. And that adds to the idea. Actually, it's better if we merge the ideas. We want to innovate the formal structures that have been set up by the municipality. But also, now the idea that we had with a point of sales

could be incorporated either for the street vendors or within the actual market.

[00:24:37] We are hoping to do that by May, June. We're going to have another stakeholder engagement which we called sense-making. Sense-making session with our partner around that. Present what Peru has done, add on our idea, and then hopefully get it off the ground by May.

[00:24:52] We do that and it saves us so much work but also just now seeing how their approach would work in our context. Is it something that we can now say, okay, Peru, Namibia have done this. Uganda, you guys also working. Would you like to try it? This is what we've learned. Okay. The Gambia, this is what we learned. So, building on each

other's knowledge and we don't like to start things from scratch. Really? If there's somebody doing it, let’s just build on it instead of starting over again. Or like working in silos, like, oh no, like being precious about our information and knowledge and like, no, it's only for us, you know. We're really very open about sharing knowledge. We are very open about asking people if we don't know. 

[00:25:30] Adrian/Naitiemu: Awesome. I guess it goes back to collective intelligence. 

[00:25:33] Omagano Kankondi: Yeah, yeah. 

[00:25:34] Adrian/Naitiemu: That's great. We network with African crossroads. We talk about indigenous knowledge and collective intelligence all the time within that.

[00:25:41] Omagano Kankondi: Awesome. African crossroads.

[00:25:43] Adrian/Naitiemu: And also, PADI, Pan-African Design Institute, do check that out.

[00:25:48] It's full of amazing creatives from all over Africa. 

[00:25:51] Omagano Kankondi: Okay. Institute. Okay. Thank you. 

[00:25:53] Adrian/Naitiemu: You got questions or thoughts for us? Or the community? For the listeners?

[00:25:58] Omagano Kankondi: You told me how you guys started with the design week and so forth. Number one, what has kept you going? Because I know it can be difficult to start up some project or like you have an idea you want to bring it to life.

[00:26:08] What has kept you going in this process? And when did you start, actually?

[00:26:11] Adrian/Naitiemu: The first idea came pretty soon within months if not weeks of me first arriving in Nairobi. And obviously, it's evolved and so on. So what's kept us going? Not asking ourselves, does this even end? I've never put it that way, but just being sure that this is a thing that's going to be there.

[00:26:31] And knowing from day one that in 50 years’ time, I want to attend Nairobi Design Week as a visitor, as a guest, with East Africans and Kenyans running the thing. So that and kind of the love for design. The passion for all the design and all the culture that we're constantly discovering. Learning from each other.

[00:26:49] There is no other option, really. 

[00:26:52] Omagano Kankondi: That's so inspiring to me. I know I spoke a lot about the work we're doing, but one of the things that I didn't mention was we started work with the creative industry. The entity was Fabrica. They came to us and so forth. We shared the same issues where people don't see the value of the creative industry. For example, I'm so grateful my mom allowed me to study anything that I wanted. But people were kind of like, so she's going to university to draw? People really see it like that. We want people to see the economic value of the creative industry.

[00:27:18] It's wild to me that people don't see value in the creative industry where literally everything you see is from the creative industry. It's us bringing our ideas and all of that to life. We get to do all of this life because of the creative industry.

[00:27:33] And one of the things that comes up a lot, especially with the Namibian creative industry is, we want our own like branding. Your necklace, if I see something, I already know which country comes from. We want to have that kind of identity. If you see some patterns, you know which country belongs to. What is that identity?

[00:27:50] As I say this, maybe a Namibian person would be like, yeah, but we do have an identity. But if I'm saying that and I'm asking, maybe it's not obvious enough. But I'm really inspired by you guys and the work that you're doing. And that's just really

giving me some push for the work that we're doing, or I shouldn't feel despondent. Next time we have a chat, I hope to be able to update and say, you know what guys, after that conversation and the inspiration that you gave me were able to do X, Y, and Z. And honestly, to be able to do something like Namibia Design Week, that would be amazing. That would actually be amazing to do that. 

[00:28:19] Adrian/Naitiemu: So maybe let's just dig into Namibia then. Are there other, like this paternity test, the lineage thing? Are there any specific things from Namibian culture or from any particular tribe that you find really fascinating and unique?

[00:28:35] Omagano Kankondi: Yeah, cousin, there's a word cousin. But we don't have the word cousin. Especially my mom's side, we are very tight-knit. We're not allowed to use that in like my mom and their side.

[00:28:44] And also, you know what, we don't really use pronouns. He, she. That was so fascinating. It's inclusive language by nature, you know?

[00:28:54] Adrian/Naitiemu: You know, even in Swahili, the same thing. We don't have pronouns. Yeah. In Swahili, we don't have, we're like there's no, he, she it's like, they, you know. And we we're discovering here on this tour that more and more, or rather for us new languages, right.

[00:29:11] More languages than we thought around Africa. Yeah. And not just Africa. Actually, there are European languages that don't have pronouns as well but that's something we found really interesting that many African languages don't use pronouns. 

[00:29:25] Omagano Kankondi: So, marriage, you could get a child is a gift. If I'm getting married, somebody can come and say, all right, fantastic. Here is your two-year-old. And because children are seen as a blessing, so we are blessing your household with a child, right. And then you become responsible for that child. They part of your household now.

[00:29:45] And then one of my schoolmates asked. And then, is there a formal adoption process? What do you mean? That's it. And the child can go back home anytime they want, but they're your child now. They're your blessing now. You've gotten this blessing. I never thought about like formal adoption processes with us.

[00:30:01] So when I get to speak about stuff and someone asking me to clarify something that I've always known and has always been in a culture. I'm always like, oh, okay. Not everybody does this, not everybody.

[00:30:11] Adrian/Naitiemu: That's so interesting. What, yeah. I'm curious to know more about the genocide you mentioned. Yes. What's that about?

[00:30:20] Omagano Kankondi: We were a German colony. Right. Before we were like handed over to the South Africans. I think people are speaking about it more and it's now more known that it happened here. The Ovaherero people had asked for compensation for it because I mean, the Jewish people got compensation for it and it's been a really long battle.

[00:30:39] If I'm not mistaken it was finalized last year. And last year, they went to collect the skulls because they committed all those crimes and violence upon people. And then the skulls as they were doing certain things, they took them there because it was part of their research. Right.

[00:30:53] They got those skulls back and also just items belonging to their chiefs. It was a terrible, terrible thing and not spoken about enough. We weren't the biggest tribe from my understanding.

[00:31:05] And they wiped out so many people. That is trauma for a whole tribe. Yeah. And generations, of course. Yeah. Yes, yes, yes. Yes. Hundred percent.

[00:31:18] Adrian/Naitiemu: Great, well, this has been amazing.

[00:31:20] Omagano Kankondi:  I enjoyed this thoroughly.

[00:31:22] Adrian/Naitiemu:  Where can people find you? If they want to see your work. 

[00:31:25] Omagano Kankondi: I really need to do better with sharing my work. LinkedIn is easy. Facebook is also easy. LinkedIn and Facebook, definitely. Twitter. Facebook is just my name. LinkedIn is my name. 

[00:31:36] Adrian/Naitiemu: Your Twitter is M, underscore A, underscore G, underscore Z.

[00:31:40] Omagano Kankondi: When I started Twitter, it was many years ago. I didn't realize there'll be a professional thing connected to it. 

[00:31:46] Adrian/Naitiemu: Awesome. Thank you so much. 

[00:31:48] Omagano Kankondi: Thank you. 

[00:31:49] Adrian/Naitiemu: Have a lovely rest of your day. 

[00:31:50] Hosts (A/N): Coming up next time is Juliet Kavishe, a professional interior architect born in Tanzania. Brought up in four countries on two continents. She talks us through the culture of African design, links between pre-colonial colonial and post-colonial interior and architectural design and culture, afro-minimalism, and her experience being a third culture kid. Her personal design motto is that architecture or design is achieved once you consider the complexities and interrelationships of human

beings and their surroundings.

[00:32:21] If you have any ideas for episodes we should do, people we should host on the show. Please let us know. We're really, really interested in hearing your thoughts. And if you've made it this far, a review would mean so much to us as well on whichever

platform you're listening to us on. 

[00:32:40] Or even the recommendation to one of your friends or through a tweet. We hope to get these stories out there to more people.

[00:32:47] I'm Adrian Jankowiak and my co-host is Naitiemu. This episode was edited by David King'ori with music by Ngalah and Mercy Barno. Thank you for tuning in to Afrika Design.

Episode Credits

Produced by Nairobi Design Week

Hosts: Naitiemu and Adrian Jankowiak

Editor: David King'ori

Shorts & Artwork: Felix Owaga

Music: Ngalah Oreyo (@ngalah_oreyo) and Mercy Barno (@merc.b_)


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