Life and dreams in Donkerbos, a small San community

The Augmented Reality magnets from Donkerbos tell about San traditions. But how is life in Donkerbos today? We asked some of the community members performing in the magnet videos what they would like to tell people who might want to know more about them.

About Donkerbos

On the fringes of the Kalahari Desert, at the end of a long, winding sand track, lies the small village of Donkerbos. After a long period of desperation, the community has started an income-generating project with souvenirs that use augmented reality technology. They have also ideated other projects they want to start to improve lives in the community.

Donkerbos – the dark bush in Afrikaans – is a small community approximately 4 hours kilometres from the regional capital Gobabis in Namibia.

Most community members are Ju/’hoansi speaking San, one the indigenous peoples of Southern Africa. San communities suffer a long history of discrimination and marginalization. Formerly nomadic hunter-gatherers, they now face a reality of having to develop new livelihoods.

Donkerbos is a long-term partnerof the Inclusive and Collaborative Local Tech Innovation Hub. We support the community in needs-identification and capacity development for the projects they want to implement. Together we also undertake ground-breaking academic research, which focuses on finding ways to preserve indigenous knowledge and help communities keep their knowledge alive.

The income generating projects the community wants to start include a campsite, a village shop and a housing project. Startup capital for these projects is sourced through a crowdfunding platform and through the sales of augmented reality fridge magnets – an innovative product the community developed together with the Tech Hub.

Looking like a regular fridge magnet, the augmented reality (AR) magnets tell stories of San traditions when they are scanned by a mobile phone. Images and videos for the magnets were developed in Donkerbos. The community members participated in the ideation, scripting, photo- and videography and acting. In the process, they developed new skills in these areas and reconnected with their pride for their cultural traditions.