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LaGSus / Sub-projects / Herero / LGS research project / Topics
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Some of the topics mentioned above could be confirmed to be relevant to our research, at the same time, other important topics have come up through a first analysis of the material.

  • SARDEP has closed down the last of its projects in November 2003 and is thus no longer directly our object of observation. However, we intend to focus more on the lasting results of SARDEP within this area. We do this in two ways. Firstly, we observe the institutions and knowledge of which we know that SARDEP had influence on in their constituting. We want to know what happens with these institutions and the knowledge, how people make use of them, etc. Secondly, by taking other villages at random as a third local focus, we may be able to compare community development work taking place beyond the (direct) influence of SARDEP.

  • We can – at present: intuitively – confirm that SARDEP has been not only successful, but that it has had – together with other institutional and individual support – a wider influence on the forming and shape of community development meetings. It seems that there are mainly two kinds of formal meetings: meetings pertaining to family matters such as weddings and, more importantly, funerals; and meetings pertaining to development matters, which at the same time may mean: community matters. These meetings are what we could so far observe in Omutiuanduko, in Omatjete, Omihana, Ozondati and the Annual General Meeting of the Tjohorongo-Konjee Farmers’ Association.

  • If this distinction is true, then we may interpret the institutionalisation of the community meetings as the result of development itself. It is clear already now that such community meetings are better accessible for women, i.e. they can take part as actively speaking out members of the community. This is not possible at funerals, where the important decisions are taken by the men standing at the grave, while women sit aside. It is our hypothesis that the funerals constitute the most important meetings where much of what happens in the development meetings is pre-decided. We have no proof of this so far. A further question arising from this situation of double meeting structures is in how far topics concerning cattle and small stock, land reform etc. are treated in the respective meetings.

  • Development or community meetings can be seen as part of a local hermeneutics of development. Further aspects of local hermeneutics may be found in the way a group comes to a decision, or how certain terms are defined in interacting with other members.

  • We have been able to make a film of probably the last meeting in the context of SARDEP. It was facilitated, for the last time, by Nicky Mutirakuti (former: Kameho). It was a project that should lead to improved goat quality through in-breeding of boar-goats. SARDEP provided for the goats, the community members were supposed to handle everything else by themselves, such as the organization of the work and the breeding process. Though the project could have been prolonged, since it was entirely in the hands of the Omutiuanduko community, it was decided at a meeting of the Community Development Committee meeting on November 3rd 2003 that it should close down. The remaining goats will be sold at the next auction and the income from that divided amongst the remaining 18 members of the “boar-goat project”. This decision has not been undisputed. The discourses surrounding this decision, as well as the local social dynamics of the development process this entails, is one of our main interest. An analysis of this text will be shortly be available in a volume on Language and Empowerment with Martin PŘtz, Joshua Fishman and JoAnne Neff van Anselaer.

  • We have also been able to make video and tone recordings of the Annual General Meetings of the Tjohorongo-Konjee Farmers’ Association 2004 and 2005. Apart from the impression that this is a very lively and very interested group of farmers, in 2004 we found most striking the atmosphere of distrust that was prevailing. The farmers were very distrusting towards the executive board and the executive marketing director. It seems to be mainly a question of (so perceived) elite vs. local farmers. This distrust finds expression on the level of communicative infrastructure in a massive re-introduction of the following topics over and over again in the course of 14 hours of meeting: the frequency of meetings between the executive board, the branches and the farmers; the local distance of the board (none of them reside in Omatjete themselves); education (eg. language choice: the meeting is held in Otjiherero, but the minutes produced in English); unclarities of money use; difficulties to judge the justification of prices at auctions and the role of the marketing manager. Overall, the communicative infrastructure displays that the organization is always able to reinstall basic rules of turn-taking, even after break-down. The feelings of distrust fit well in with local, regional and national politics: There is a distrust felt towards the own elite in the towns, towards the still prevailing post-apartheid structures favouring the white population and – almost identical in the case of Omatjete – the commercial farmers, towards the government, towards the regional administration, towards the buying policies of the meat-industries etc. A close analysis of the 14-hours-meeting as well as the surrounding regional and national contexts will show more clearly these structures.

  • In the 2005 AGM, after an organization building workshop organized by the NNFU, GTZ and the LGS research project, the proceedings of the congress were much more smooth. However, at one point there was an unclarity about organizational procedures which momentarily brought about an athmosphere of severe insecurity. In a common effort and a long discussion the congress managed to creatively solve the problem, so that the scheduled election of the board could finally take place. It was a situation where the organizational weaknesses became very obvious, where ‘membership’ was transformed into ‘ownership’. In the following, one participant which in the 2004 AGM had successfully managed to distabilize trust of the executive board by constantly questioning its activities, was effectively silenced by some members of the meeting.

  • In the case of the 2004 AGM also brings up sharply the question of leadership: How can the executive board maintain their roles as leaders in the current situation? On the one hand it is clear that they are not in an exceptionally critical stage or more under distrust than other boards. And though they make the impression of being very devoted and highly motivated individuals, one wonders, for instance, at how thoughtlessly they deal with the feelings of the farmers. To spend 7000 N$ on a meeting of the executive board to a poor farmer from a remote village must seem a huge amount and rise his (anyway smouldering) suspicion about money-squandering by his representatives. On the other hand we sometimes had the impression that the farmers were so suspicious they only heard what they wanted and didn’t listen to what didn’t suit them. Though we don’t see the existence of the Tjohorongo-Konjee Farmers’ Association at risk at the moment, it still is a question of how to form sustainable leadership in this context. And, on the other hand, followership, of course. Though the leadership had so far been mostly accused of being ‘foreign’ by virtue of the fact that most of them belong to the group of ‘urban farmers’, i.e. live in the urban centres and come home on the weekends only, in January 2005, important protagonists of the executive board have been re-elected, and almost all other board members were elected from the body of ‘urban farmers’.

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