A group of four professors, two lecturers and 11 students from various cultural and social backgrounds and IT-related fields of study spent nearly a week in Erongo region as part of a Summer School on Culture and Computer Science. The field trip was organised by the Faculty of Computing and informatics in partnership with Humboldt University and HTW-Berlin University in Germany and Wits University in South Africa.
The Summer School was conducted to increase efforts to preserve history and traditions by, for example, using technology to protect natural rock engravings, particularly the heritage of San communities. The School also aimed to enhance the experiences of visitors to natural sites from a technological perspective. To this end, the participants used various gathering techniques, including video, audio sampling and photography, to collect information that can be used to create a smartphone application. The downloadable application will give users the opportunity to learn about Namibia’s non-renewable cultural heritage by using it to identify rock art sites, some of which are said to be as old as 80 000 years.
The Associate Dean in the Faculty, Prof Hippolyte Muyingi, said: “The Summer School was a rare occasion because it happened outside EU countries. It was an honour for the Faculty to host such a team of scholars and students. We provided them with a cross-cultural and multi-disciplinary platform to explore computing solutions to the advancement of the knowledge about the natural and cultural heritage wealth of Namibia. ”
The cross-cultural experience inspired the students to network, share best practices and strengthen relations amongst the universities. The participants stressed that this exploration was done with an end goal of creating feasible solutions not only for the sites in Erongo region, but also those that can be applied in other natural art and touristic areas.
“It was an eye-opener to realise that, unlike some works of science and technology which are perishable, artworks last over millennia because they are an expression of the human spirit,” Muyingi said.
The National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST) funded the project while Air Namibia sponsored the flight tickets of the visiting professors.
Dr Nobert Jere, Head of the Informatics Department, thanked Air Namibia for sponsoring the two tickets. “We look forward to future collaborations with the airline as we envisage more events of this nature in the future,” he said.