The Digitized Owela game finding place in the corporate world.

By Kelvin Chiringa
August 2016
Prime Business

 

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.

This loud sounding philosophy by the late famed Architect of Apple inc Steve Jobs seem to tally well with a team of young software developers who through hard work, trial and error resurrected into the modern digital world the ancient Owela game.

Yet this time they went an extra mile by positioning it right into the heart of a digital corporate world.

This rustic game was the buzzword  of rural and urban black communities back in the olden days but with the sudden inception of high-tech game technology the spirit of Owela died in the fast lane of a world gone digital.
Yet true to the essence of Namibian culture, one of Namibia’s up and coming local innovative power-house, National Software Engineering Academy (NSEA) unleashed its creative force by merging sophisticated technologies, ingenuity and innovation to bring alive a game that fits well into the world of business.
But what exactly in the 21st Century Namibia is Owela?

“This is hundreds of years of history that had almost gone extinct which we have brought to life. Many other games which are available on the market have nothing to do with the African identity and we decided to bring out something that is truly African. In order to send a clear message that we are able to create products out of software that speak of our culture we then found inspiration in the Owela,” says Owela co-software engineer Chris Muashekele.

Known in the Damara parlance as “//hus” and in Otjiherero as “Onyune” the Owela as the Oshiwambo call it, is a product of Africa’s primordial age, played by the ancients for recreational purposes and sharpening the mind
The game itself dates back centuries ago and survived the vagaries of time into the urbanized world and many parts of rural communities.
Yet the tidal wave of disruptive technology in a world of disintegrated digital network systems saw the Owela game and its spirit dying in the fast lane of these latest developments and thus becoming a half remembered legend in cosmopolitan Namibia.
Yet by merging latest technologies, innovation and ingenuity the software engineers re-created a digitized and more dynamic game which suits well in the 21st Century social and corporate world.

The technological touch to it makes it appealing to the younger generation yet its fundamentals and rules remain untouched.

“Owela is a game that deals with a lot of mathematics and demands the ability to moot strategies and develop tactics. One needs to have an acute level of thinking to beat an opponent and sometimes the opponent is yourself. This competitive spirit is very much expected from business people as well and as such it fosters critical thinking in any business environment,” says Owela brand ambassador and musician Samuele Oshipana.

The game comes with very exciting animations that are lively coupled with sounds and sophisticated settings, yet this digital version is more than a playing hub.

 The Owela brings with it an ingenious touch table which provides space for companies to put in their advertisements there by increasing brand visibility.

Realising that the driving force behind any business machine lies in proper marketing, the Owela was thus seamlessly architected to provide the stage for companies to build and strengthen their brands on.

“Indeed we are bringing the game to the people but if you look at it from a business perspective it is an advertising platform and as free as a pool table, you can put it anywhere so people can help themselves to it while at the same time interacting with company adverts,” says Isaak Leonard who is responsible for marketing.

While corporates are yet to fully embrace the language this ingenious technology speaks in the world of business, it is perhaps prudent to realise how this platform can increase brand visibility and penetration.

“Its efficiency when it comes to acting as a marketing platform can be fully understood when we realise that it will be placed in such areas were the people are and that can be recreational areas, shopping malls, bars and so forth,” says Muashekele.

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