Isabel Tueumuna Katjavivi:
They tried to bury us
When Namibian communities rose up against German colonial rule in 1904-08, the Imperial forces responded with decrees of extermination: 80 percent of the Ovaherero and 50 percent of the Nama people were killed. Another decree encouraged the shooting of the San. This reign of terror lingers in the psyche of the nation.
In Namibia today, the land holds unresolved trauma. Each grain of soil holds memory and is a witness to the past. The wells that were poisoned to kill fleeing people, remain as gaping holes. The hanging trees still whisper, and the bones lie abandoned in the ground.
They tried to bury us is a scene of remembrance. The faces represent the multitudes that were never laid to rest. They serve as a metaphor for history, representing a past that is unresolved and unfinished – both emerging from, and disintegrating into, the tainted earth in which they lie.
Isabel Tueumuna Katjavivi is a visual artist in Windhoek, Namibia. She is currently studying towards a Master's Degree in Visual Arts (University of Namibia), focusing on site-specific ephemeral installations to memorialise the Ovaherero Genocide. She was the overall First Prize Winner of the 2017 Bank Windhoek Triennial Competition. Katjavivi has had three solo exhibitions and has participated in numerous group exhibitions. Her work is found in the collections of the Museum Würth, Künzelsau, The Luciano Benetton Collection, and the National Art Gallery of Namibia Permanent Collection.