Workshop: Namibian Students in Finland 1969-1990: The Film Newstime and Ellen Namhila’s Autobiography The Price of Freedom

The panel discussion is organized by the artist Laura Horelli, the director of the film Newstime. Newstime is a found footage film, which discusses cultural differences, being an outsider, the Namibian independence struggle, and Finland’s long-term ties with the southern African country. TV-programs showing everyday life are set against a voice-over by Ellen Ndeshi Namhila reading from her autobiography The Price of Freedom. Namhila spent seven years in Tampere in the 1980s as a refugee on a scholarship, studying library science. She recounts her experiences, ranging from single parenthood to observations on missionaries in Namibia and the church in Finland. News clips on the Namibian independence struggle frame the narrative. They feature SWAPO (The South West Africa People’s Organization) students, visiting politicians, and representatives of the United Nations and NGOs.

The screening of the film is followed by a panel discussion, where each of the panelists comments on various aspects of the film according to his/her personal experience and/or research. In this way the panelists inform about, unravel and expand on the issues raised. Jimmy Amupala studied journalism at the University of Tampere in the 1970s and 80s. After the independence of Namibia in 1990, he worked in the Namibian Broadcasting Company (NBC), but decided to return to live in Finland. Anna Rastas is an Academy of Finland Research Fellow at the Tampere University. She has researched and published widely on the African diaspora in Finland and organized the exhibition project “The African Presence in Finland” at the Labour Museum Werstas. Olli Löytty is an author and researcher, who was born in Swakopmund, Namibia. His book “Our Ovamboland, Us and Them in Finnish Missionary Literature” examines missionaries’ literary descriptions of the Ovamboland and its inhabitants since 1870.