The making of Ruacana as place and its construction as future heritage
Ruacana is a town in northern Namibia, located on the border with Angola on the Kunene River. It is about 150 kilometres north of Oshakati. The town was established in the early 1970s by the South West Africa Water and Electricity Commission, to provide accommodation for the Ruacana Hydropower station staff. Having been established without forced removals, Ruacana was an ideal ‘apartheid town’ as only ‘white’ staff lived in the wall-fenced –off town. The ‘black’ staff, soldiers as well as those that provided services in the town, were accommodated in a nearby township known as Oshifo, A few years later, the South African colonial government established one of its largest army bases in Owambo ‘district’ to safeguard the hydropower station from possible guerrilla attacks. However, the town is rarely documented in academic or even South African colonial government publications. It is rather the hydropower complex that is well documented, where Ruacana is represented through its projects of modernization. Also, other than claims to natural heritage and a heritage of ethnicity, Ruacana town lacks formal invocations of heritage. Thus it is argued that Ruacana points to a different pattern of heritage production, as the future itself was planned as heritage. This study is an attempt to analyse how Ruacana became a place of a heritage of development, even though heritage is not formally acknowledged in the institutional structures.