Local film enthusiasts who were anxiously waiting for a Namibia Film Commission (NFC)-funded documentary celebrating the life of the iconic Oukwanyama King, Mandume yaNdemufayo, will face an indefinite delay.
A part of the film production is documenting the search for the decapitated head of the revered young king for a dignified burial at the Heroes’ Acre or another culturally relevant location.
The filming delay comes after the producers’ attempt to raise N$500,000 in additional funds, proved futile. NFC determined that raising these funds at this stage will likely not be possible at this stage, considering the state of the current economy.
The NFC has already allocated nearly N$400,000 towards the completion of the project. But, the remaining amounts are not available. NFC Executive Secretary Florence Haifene confirmed that the parastatal has planned to bankroll part of the production.
“We offered the producers a total of N$390,000, which is about 30 percent of the amount needed. To date, only a portion of these funds has been disbursed for pre-production. We understand that the producer must still source more funds to complete the project,” Haifene said. She added that allocated project funds are disbursed in stages based on demonstrated progress towards completion of the project. This avoids increasing funds being spent on projects that remain incomplete.
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer this week, Mandume film producer Vickson Hangula confirmed that the crew is faced with insufficient funding. This deficit is crippling the entire production program.
“The ideal budget for this initiative, including professional fees and market-related expenditure was estimated to cost around N$1.2 million. After producing the first part of the documentary with N$90,000 received from the NFC. I scaled the budget down to N$800,000. This means that we are still N$500,000 short,” Hangula revealed. He confirmed that the NFC will not release the rest of the allocation until the production team raises more funds.
Haifene concurred that the current state of the economy is affecting the arts industry in general negatively because many players in this sector depend on the goodwill of private financial backers.
Hangula plans to make a two-part video documentary film of between 70 - 90 minutes in duration. The first part of the film, may be titled: The Life and Times of King Mandume: 1894 – 1917. This will focus on King Mandume from his birth in 1894 until he was killed and decapitated by European colonial forces in 1917.
The relatively short film of 60 minutes will touch on historical and apocryphal accounts of Mandume’s upbringing, his assumption to the throne and other stories. It will also mention the reforms that he introduced, the battles he waged against the Portuguese and his subsequent fall in battle at Oihole, Southern Angola.
The Windhoek Observer has learned that the first phase of pre-production was completed between February and March 2019. Research and interviews were conducted with Ohamba yo vaKwanyama, Her Majesty Mwadinomho ya Kristian Nelumbu and senior Advisor Mr Hadino Hishongwa in the OuKwanyama Palace at Omhedi. The second phase of the production was set to commence in March 2019, but lack of funds stalled the project.
“We are still sitting with the footage of the first phase, hoping that we will eventually wrap the second phase in early 2020,” Hangula said.
The working title of the full film is: In search of the King’s head. In later stages of production, the crew will film their search for information about the remains of King Mandume following the recorded decapitation by the Europeans upon his death at Oihole.
“During this phase, we plan to travel to the relevant areas, from Namibia to Angola, South Africa, Finland, Portugal and Britain in search of the King’s remains. If we are to find it, we will bring it back home. We then hope to mobilise resources and political will for it to have a dignified burial either at the Heroes Acre in Windhoek, Namibia, or where his body rests at Oihole,” Hangula further revealed.
Young King Mandume, crowned at age 16, reigned over the Oukwanyama kingdom and battled colonial invaders from 1911 until his death in 1917.