Ancestral and Cultural Futuring: Speculative Design in an Indigenous ovaHimba context


Chris Muashekele (AAU), Heike Winschiers-Theophilus (NUST), Kasper Rodil (AAU), Alphons Koruhama (NUST)

Executive summary:

This paper presents the first instance and experience of futuring in two indigenous ovaHimba communities in northwest Namibia. Over a series of sessions, we, as part of a broad green energy access project, explore futuring to stimulate and invoke alternative green energy use cases. These alternatives are premised on the opposition of the dominant needs-based and interventionist approach and imagination of unorthodox green energy utilisation that supersedes mainstream, rudimentary and obvious energy use. We reflect on the application of futuring, particularly speculative design, in an indigenous context, highlighting the communities’ back-looking future perspective, and relevance and influence of ancestry and culture over the future. As well as accentuate the friction towards speculative design, arguing for its appropriation and alignment to a more grounded design approach. Moreover, we indicate the agency that it provides, allowing local participants to re-evaluate their values and practices and simultaneously determine the integration of technology into the future.