Seventh Annual Language and Literature Research Colloquium

The Department of Language and Literature Studies in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is pleased to announce that its Seventh Annual Research Colloquium will take place on 23 July 2015 in the Auditorium of the Library on the UNAM Main Campus.

The Colloquium was established in 2009 to promote and stimulate research in the Department, and to help staff members prepare for possible paper presentations at larger academic gatherings, e.g. the annual research conference of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Researchers in the Department who are supported by the University to present papers at international conferences are also expected to present those papers at this occasion.

This year the Colloquium welcomes sister units, institutions and universities active in the field of language and literature studies by featuring a panel discussion on the teaching and especially research activities at each. This showcase is meant to share knowledge at a national scale and identify potential areas of collaboration. The following speakers have so far agreed to participate in the panel discussion:

  • Dr Sarala Krishnamurthy, Dean: School of Human Sciences (incorporating the Dept. of Communication and the Dept. of Education and Languages) - Polytechnic of Namibia
  • Ms Sylvia Schlettwein, Head: Dept. of Communication and Languages - International University of Management
  • Mr Laurentius Davids, Chief Education Officer: African Languages; Curriculum, Research and Development Division - National Institute for Educational Development
  • Dr Liswani Simasiku, Director: Language Centre - University of Namibia
  • …, Dept. of Curriculum Studies, Instruction and Assessment, Faculty of Education - University of Namibia
  • Mr Fillemon Mungongi, Head: Dept. of Education in Languages, Humanities and Commerce, Faculty of Education - University of Namibia
  • Prof. Marianne Zappen-Thomson, Dept. of Language and Literature Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences - University of Namibia

Conference Abstracts

Dr. Julia Augart, University of Namibia

Africa is in international media often reduced to a continent of crime, catastrophes and corruption. However, lately it has also become a widespread theme and setting in the popular genre of crime fiction. By this, the novels support the image of crime, but at the same time they often present an insight into the African societies and outline a social criticism.

German crime fiction set in Africa also does not only present the crime itself but often presents a critical stance towards Western intervention on the African continent during colonialism but also in postcolonial times. Crimes that are depicted are for example murder, poaching or piracy, along with the smuggling of resources, human trafficking and prostitution or illegal pharmaceuticals experiments. Especially the (il)legal exploitation of resources such as gold, gemstones, oil, timber or lately coltan, but also its people forms often the background to these crime novels and illustrate a criticism towards the neo-colonial exploitation by international companies and African politicians alike.

My paper will shorty outline the German crime fiction set in Africa, explain the concept of exploitation and then discuss selected novels, which illustrate Western exploitation and its negative impacts for the African continent.

Dr. Corinna Häger, University of Namibia

This paper aims to critically discuss the concept of "employability" in a Namibian higher education context:

  • What is employability?
  • How important is “employability” in Namibian higher education (particularly humanities) and why?
  • What defines “highly employable” graduates?
  • How can we encourage students to develop their employability and embed graduate attributes and employability in our curricula?

Dr. Jekura U. Kavari, University of Namibia

Most, if not all, Bantuists or Bantu linguists maintain that Bantu languages consist of only five vowels i.e. +high [i] and [u] as well as –high [ɛ], [ɔ] and [a]. These vowels are listed as one of the common features shared by all Bantu languages. Otjiherero phonological evidences clearly show that a sixth vowel i.e. +high [e] does exist. Therefore this paper attempts to highlight the evidences that illustrate that a sixth vowel does exist in Otjiherero. Although I have found two examples, so far, that show that even a seventh vowel, i.e. +high [o], may exist in Otjiherero as well, but this falls outside the scope of this paper, but it is worth mentioning here.

Dr. Sarala Krishnamurthy, Dean of School of Human Sciences, Polytechnic of Namibia

For a novelist like Ngugi wa Thiong’o, who is not just a child of his times, but a historical witness to events unfolding in Kenya, the novel is a means to interrogate history and culture. The failure of leadership is a recurring theme in his novels and he is particularly scathing in his review of governance in his country. Wizard of the Crow (2006), Ngugi’s latest novel, is an exploration of this theme. "I was inspired by Mobutu in Zaire, Amin in Uganda, Bokassa in Central Africa, Suharto in Indonesia, Pinochet in Chile" he says, while writing this novel (Kirkus Reviews:2006:).

An examination of his oeuvre clearly reveals a remarkable progression from realism to satirical writing bordering on the bizarre. In his early colonial novels, the leader is a Moses like figure. But his later, post colonial novels move further and further away from reality as he proceeds to unravel the collapse of authority. I would like to argue that his treatment of the theme of leadership is a post modern evaluation of power and my contention is that it is Ngugi’s deep and abiding love for his country that compels him to adopt the satirical mode of story-telling which is both theatrical and academic, literal and political at the same time. In other words, I propose to read the novel contrapuntally making use of New Historicism in my analysis of Wizard of the Crow. I focus on historical and political processes in order to gain a greater insight into Ngugi’s art and provide for a more nuanced reading of the novel.

As has been pointed out, “New Historicism is eclectic in its theoretical basis but has opened up a fascinating mode of analysis of cultural practices which goes beyond the scope of the structuralist methodology in studying cultural institutions. It combines the spirit of deconstruction with the ideological orientation of Marxism and Post – Marxism, and finds a rich source in the concepts of power and history as set forth by Foucault” (Indira: 2005: 558).

Rewai Makamani (PhD), Deputy Head of Department of Communication, Polytechnic of Namibia

Studies focusing on the modes and patterns of communication between healthcare-providers and patients have attracted scholarly attention in a number of western countries and less so in Africa. For example, Bischoff and Louton (2006) have studied how health professionals have used relatives, paid interpreters and other health professionals to overcome communication barriers when interacting with allophone patients in Swiss hospitals. Maynard Douglas (2003) has also revealed how forecasting, euphemisms, bluntness and stalling are used to communicate bad news and good news in legal, medical and socio-cultural contexts. However, such studies have not been reciprocated by similar studies reflecting the African context and, in particular, the Namibian situation. This study thus sought to unravel the efficacy of the communicative model used by English speaking healthcare providers with their patients most of whom may have difficulties in understanding English used during consultations particularly with doctors and nurses. In this study data was gathered through questionnaires administered to healthcare providers and in–depth interviews with patients and a purposive sample of healthcare providers. The study exposed lack of trained interpreters coupled with low literacy levels of some patients as hampering the effectiveness of the communication model. There exist inherent communication barriers that need to be attended to. The study further established that such communication barriers mitigate against effective diagnosis of diseases and the ultimate uptake of prescribed drugs by patients. Findings therefore reveal that even though healthcare provision is of international standards in Namibia, the system stands to gain from upskilling of some healthcare providers and the training of interpreters.

Josephine Mwasheka Nashongo, University of Namibia

This study analyses the way African women function in cohabitative relationships as portrayed in ten selected fictional short stories by African women writers. Cohabitation is perceived from co-residential dating to an alternative marriage and it could “lead to ambiguity over relationship durability and expected obligations between partners, which is compounded by the lack of rituals that surround moving together” (Baker and Elizabeth, 2013, p. 262). Cohabitation can be defined as married and/or unmarried couples who live together and have sexual relationships. This study was concerned with the way African women in cohabitative relationships cope with their experiences, as portrayed in the 10 fictional selected short stories by African women writers. The selected short stories were chosen because of the recurring themes about women’s empowerment and disempowerment in cohabitative relationships. The study is informed by the black womanism, stiwanism and the feminism theory, particularly post-colonial and postmodern feminism. The sample was purposively selected because the researcher only looked at how African women writers in English of fictional short stories depict the experiences of African women in cohabitative relationships. Since short stories were chosen to be the centre of the study, the researcher used a qualitative approach by looking at views related to African women in cohabitative relationships as portrayed in literature. It was found that it could be highly likely that the experiences of African women in cohabitative relationships may be traced in the traditions of a specific society.

Call for Abstracts

In addition to the panel discussion, the Colloquium will feature presentations in the following formats:

  • fully-fledged conference papers reporting on research (20 minutes each)
  • research project/programme proposals, including approved Master’s and PhD proposals (10 minutes each)
  • other research-related announcements (10 minutes each)
  • poster presentations by staff and/or students (during tea breaks and lunch)

Abstracts of 150-200 words for any of the above formats of presentation are invited from researchers and registered postgraduate students in Namibia.

Presentations may deal with topics in any of the following fields:

  • all areas in theoretical and applied linguistics, including language teaching, learning and assessment; academic literacy; language in/and education; curriculum design
  • all areas in literature, including literary theory; the teaching of literature; curriculum design; creative writing

Limited slots are available as the Colloquium is a one-day event. Abstracts will be considered on a first come, first served basis.

Abstracts should please be e-mailed to Ms Carola Beyer:

Please indicate the proposed presentation format: paper/proposal/announcement/poster.

Closing date for abstract submissions: 30 June 2015


Prof. Marianne Zappen-Thomson
tel.: 061 206 3856

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(+264) 61 206 3850
(+264) 61 206 3806