OYO productions make international debut

“Be a lady” and “Be a man” – the two latest productions by the Ombetja Yehinga Organisation – will make their world premiere at the Garden Route International Film Festival in South Africa next month.
Gender-based violence (GBV) remains is a burning issue in Namibia. To address this issue, there is a need to shift the focus and look at the problem from a completely different angle.
During four weekend camps with 55 boys from the Ohangwena region, 55 boys from the Omusati region, 55 girls from the Ohangwena region and 55 girls from the Omusati region, the Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO) team looked at issues around masculinity and femininity.
Participants were asked what are the do and don’t and what is expected from them in their communities, in their schools, from their peers.
“The results of the brainstorming were fascinating,” said Dr Philippe Talavera, OYO’s director. “Participants were starting to realise that they are constantly exposed to many contradictions. Schools will tell girls not to fall pregnant while at school, but communities expect them to have children early to extend the family generations. Parents tell boys not to cry but life skill teachers tell boys it’s ok to feel emotions and seek support.”
The result of the brainstorming sessions was turned into two poems: ‘be a lady’ and ‘be a man’. OYO then invited prominent figures to give life to the poems. Two short films have been produced:
• Be a lady, featuring Odile Gertze (former Miss Namibia, actress and radio presenter), Nadula Haingura (actress), Roya Diehl (actress), Fhulufhelo Ramphaga (philanthropist), Valerie Tjirimuje (social worker) and OYO dancers Mary Jane Andreas and Sydney Farao; and
• Be a man, featuring Adriano Visagie (actor), Jean-Louis Knouwds (Mr Supranational, actor and radio presenter), Monray Garoeb (actor), Ashwyn Mberi (singer and actor), Herman Hausiku (model) and OYO dancers Jeffrey Ndjahera and Berry Goraseb
Powerful stuff
“The poems are powerful,” Talavera said. “They needed strong performers to give them life. I find them at times dramatic – for instance when Ashwyn in his incomparable voice says ‘men are strong, girls are weak’. They are sarcastic, often. But they are all based on what young people hear almost daily. Unless we change the narrative, we will not reach gender equality and win the fight against GBV. I hope that by hearing those words put back-to-back young people will start to reflect on what it means to them. How can you be yourself if you constantly feel pulled in different directions?”
The two 7-minute short films have been selected in South Africa at the Garden Route International Film Festival (GRIFF) where they will have their world premiere between 12 and 16 July. They will then premiere in Namibia at the Goethe Institute on 13 August as part of “The caring Namibian man” photo project. The photos and clips will then be used in schools to discuss issues around masculinity, femininity and the meaning of gender equality in a modern Namibia.
“It is a great honour for us have been selected at GRIFF,” Talavera adds. “This is an exciting annual festival in South Africa. This year they are resuming a physical festival in Mossel Bay and we feel privileged to have been selected alongside some pretty exciting new work from SADC and beyond.”
The clips have been produced and directed by Philippe Talavera, with Joshua Homateni as director of photography, Vincent Mboku for the editing, Una Hoebel as make-up artist and Ponti Dikuua for the music. They have been made possible thanks to support from the Embassy of Finland in Namibia.