The post-apartheid city represents an important reflector of a society in transition.
Urban space as a mixture of complex interrelations and social interactions provides
a prism through which society in transition is illuminated. This transition is
captured in social spaces. Yet, there is a dearth of studies focusing on locating the
meaning of social spaces in post-apartheid urban Namibia. Employing ethnography
as a methodological choice, participant observation combined with in-depth
interviews were used to locate the social meaning of the so-called ‘Herero Mall’ in
the heart of Katutura. Providing an important means of economic survival, ‘Herero
Mall’ is a solace to the urban subaltern, to invoke Gayatri Spivak’s concept. Most
traders if not all are unable to join formal employment because of their low level of
education. ‘Herero Mall’ exists against the backdrop of high unemployment in the
city where enormous wealth rubs shoulders with abject poverty. Subjected to history
and with reference to power symbols within its milieu, ‘Herero Mall’ attracts
symbolic capital in the Bourdieuvian sense. The latter is expressive of a social space
embodying identity with an ethnic character. However, looking at ‘Herero Mall’
solely using historical and power symbols’ lens robs us of conceiving this social
space as a fusion of the past and the present. This brings hybridity to the fore, a
character ingrained in ‘Herero Mall’ as a post-apartheid social space. The
reproduction of class divides, especially along gender lines is expressed through the
interaction of social actors. Invariably, social actors eke out a living within the
purview of their social positions. ‘Herero Mall’ is by and large organised around
consumption, a distinctive feature of modern societies. It brings together people
from different walks of life and across ethnic and class divides. However,
consumers are notably young people from various social spheres. As a mix of
disparate informal market place, it is interwoven with the broader formal economy
by acting as a transmitter of consumer goods sourced from formal businesses. The
paper concludes with an assertion that from a sociological point of view, treating
social spaces as mere ‘containers’ carries with it the risk of forfeiting to get a grasp
of social transformation under way.
TJIRERA, E (2021). Ethnography Of ‘Herero Mall’ (Windhoek) As A Postapartheid Social Space. Afribary. Retrieved from https://afribary.com/works/ethnography-of-herero-mall-windhoek-as-a-postapartheid-social-space
TJIRERA, ELLISON "Ethnography Of ‘Herero Mall’ (Windhoek) As A Postapartheid Social Space" Afribary. Afribary, 25 Apr. 2021, https://afribary.com/works/ethnography-of-herero-mall-windhoek-as-a-postapartheid-social-space. Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.
TJIRERA, ELLISON . "Ethnography Of ‘Herero Mall’ (Windhoek) As A Postapartheid Social Space". Afribary, Afribary, 25 Apr. 2021. Web. 10 Aug. 2022. < https://afribary.com/works/ethnography-of-herero-mall-windhoek-as-a-postapartheid-social-space >.
TJIRERA, ELLISON . "Ethnography Of ‘Herero Mall’ (Windhoek) As A Postapartheid Social Space" Afribary (2021). Accessed August 10, 2022. https://afribary.com/works/ethnography-of-herero-mall-windhoek-as-a-postapartheid-social-space