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'Tjipangandjara' revives Otjiherero language, cultural values

2023-06-23  Pricilla Mukokobi

'Tjipangandjara' revives Otjiherero language, cultural values

Filmmaker and veteran journalist Lesley Tjiueza has made a groundbreaking impact with the premiere of his first film, ‘Tjipangandjara’, a short Otjiherero movie that seeks to revive, appreciate and celebrate the Ovaherero language, culture and values. 

‘Tjipangandjara’ premiered on Wednesday night at the Ster-Kinekor Maerua Mall cinema in the capital. The event was attended by a sold-out crowd of young and old, who all came out to support and appreciate Tjiueza’s latest offering. 

As Otjiherero language and culture face the risk of decline amongst the young generation, Tjiueza draws great inspiration from the work, life and times of renowned Otjiherero poet ‘Tjipangandjara’, whose poetic idioms have become foundational elements in the language’s contemporary usage. 

Tjiueza told VIBEZ! the film aims to promote culture, language and values, and recite stories that were myths in the Ovaherero community for centuries.

“The process was very difficult and odd. Otjiherero is a very difficult language to translate. I needed to make a lot of references and research to bring out the authentic and ancient ways of doing things,” he said. 

“Despite the success of the film, all the actors and actresses were first-timers. They needed to a lot of coaching, and that was tough. The location was also tough to find because we needed an unspoiled environment, and we did a lot of scouting. We overcame all these challenges and credit my go-to the actors and actresses, who were willing and ready.”

Tjiueza’s dedication to linguistic authenticity ensured that the film would resonate with audiences, offering a genuine glimpse into the Ovaherero community and their ways of life.

“The filming was fun. It was a whole camping experience, and we finished on time. The process of filming was coordinated with Jessica Kaimu, who worked well with the cast. The director’s role is to tell the story. The cinematographer is to choose the camera positioning and angles. The set is always full, but it’s a very fun place to be,” he added.

Casting was very direct, he stated, as he had to find people who were fluent in almost all aspects of ancient Otjiherero. 

Over time, they had to tell the cast ancient stories to enable them to fully comprehend and appreciate their roles. 

‘Tjipangandjara’ does not only serve as Tjiueza’s directorial debut but also as a powerful medium to promote and preserve the Otjiherero language and culture. 

By merging the art of storytelling with visual representation, the film breathes new life into the fading traditions of the Ovaherero people, encouraging dialogue and appreciation for their unique heritage.

‘Tjipangandjara’ will be enshrined in history forever, as the film will be used in schools as a reference for the Otjiherero language and culture.

2023-06-23  Pricilla Mukokobi

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