INSPIRING Namibian Stories
The Hollard way, leading the way. Over the last few years we have seen a mind-set shift in the way the corporate world approaches their corporate social responsibilities, with internal goals being set in reaching KPI’s, as well as measurements in regards to sustainable projects instead of donations becoming a very real objective for most. At Hollard we have an ethos we live by, a certain way we do things as well as a very definitive reason for why we do these things. Our purpose clearly states that “we will enable more people to create and secure a better future, by achieving exceptional, sustainable and inclusive growth. By partnering to deliver the win win win and treating everyone with care and dignity. We courageously pursue a better way and always try to be the catalysts for positive enduring change”. This is not only the guideline we use for business, this is a template for ensuring that we always generate the best possible results in regards to our CSR initiatives.
In total 10 475 children around Namibia are being schooled, in 192 brand new schools, or already existing schools with a number of 359 newly trained teachers. The majority of these efforts were specifically aimed at providing education for people so isolated or marginalised that they otherwise would not have had the opportunity. There are many, many more stories such as these, and there will be many more, as it is our firm belief that the term sustainability should not only apply to the conclusion of any project, but should also be relevant to our own frame of mind as a company, a team, a family. There are two kinds of people in this country, those who can make a difference but choose not to, and those who will actively fight for a better future for all Namibians. Hence we are proud to be associated with the phrase “catalysts of change”, as it not only places emphasis on our vision for the future of Hollard, but also for for what is needed to empower our people for a better tomorrow.
We do not classify or define a success story based on the scale of a project, we judge our efforts on the impact we were able to make, whether it be to the country, a community or an individual whose calls for help were answered. There is a common misconception that for optimal results you need to cover as many people or as large an area as possible with a project. Yes in many ways this is true, but we choose to not overlook the plight of the everyday Namibian, choose to not ignore the voices of those normally lost or overlooked. Such as 7 year old Godfriend Siwombe from Tsumeb, whose life was changed in a heartbeat when lightning struck the shack that he, his mother and a sibling were sleeping in. In an instant they were gone, leaving him severely burnt and disfigured. Our then MD, de Wet Joubert, read the article published soon afterwards, and decided there and then that instead of sympathy for this little boy, we could do so much more. Godfried was brought to Windhoek where Dr Norman Campbell from Advanced Orthopaedics Namibia tailor made a prosthetic limb especially for him. Today Godfried can run alongside those other little boys who always passed him by as he sat idly and watched from the side-lines. Hollard also partnered up with the Rossing Foundation and AMS (Amos Meerkat Schools) separately, but whose causes were equally fundamental. Both parties aimed to provide an educational platform for teachers and learners that could be launched nationwide.
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Published by 99FM Windhoek Namibia This publication is the exclusive property of the publishers. All rights reserved. No part if it may be reproduced without written permission of 99FM.
EDITOR IN CHIEF
What moves us to do the right thing?
Editor in Chief: Christine Hugo
Why does a rhino poacher become a rhino guard?
Features Editor: Kirsty Watermeyer
How does a person living on the breadline refuse a bribe when the cards that landed in his lap can barely hold together a day, never mind the next generation?
Production & Communications Manager: Nicky McNamara Editorial Photography: Shawn Van Eeden
How do children borne of confusion and injustice become leaders with direction and purpose?
Advertorial Photography: Susan Nel Copy Editor: Ginger Mauney
What is this thing, this internal compass? What is it, the universal true north that it points towards?
Technical Editor: Nicola Rijsdijk Writers: Kirsty Watermeyer Christine Hugo
The answer is written between the lines of the stories in this book. It is in the juxtapositions, in the seemingly conflicting forces at play in the universe and in the smallest, smallest detail and gestures of lives lived in a constant, private search for the personal truth that flows from and back to this universal truth.
Design and Layout: CreativeLAB Printed and bound by John Meinert Printing (Pty) Ltd Whilst every care has been taken in the preparation of this publication, 99FM accepts no liability for misinterpretations of the audio material, or errors and emissions in this printed copy.
This is how we are connected. This is how everything is connected. Christine Hugo
To advertise with us, contact email@example.com www.99fm.com.na
99FM MYD 2018 ARTICLE BY MARK DAWE The theme for the second 99FM MYD Journal is connection.
onventional wisdom has always placed the Agricultural Revolution (10 000 BC to 2 000 BC) at the centre of humankind’s advancement from the blissful ignorance of the hunter-gatherer to ever more advanced societies of post agricultural revolution. The earliest known transition took place in the Middle East and up until that time, the dominant social structure of our species was small, roaming nomadic bands. For the first time in history, people began to raise livestock and cultivate the land with domestic grasses, later to be called wheat. This new survival method tied humans to the land, giving rise to permanent settlements in fixed locations, ranging from small villages to cities. This new form of settlement led to the development of job creation and specialisation. For the first time in history humankind was able to harness the powers of connection, or ‘networking’ as we call it in our post-modern societies. It is through this connection that humankind’s development accelerated to the frenzied pace we experience in our everyday lives today
But we are now beginning to understand that modern history actually started long before the advent of the Agricultural Revolution. About 70 000 years ago, the ‘cognitive revolution’ kickstarted our history, and the Agricultural Revolution about 12 000 years ago merely accelerated it. According to
Yuval Noah Harari in his book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, the cognitive revolution was the real game-changer. He claims that a genetic mutation altered the inner wiring of homo sapiens, enabling them to think in unprecedented ways and to communicate in an altogether new type of language that conveyed both information and fantasy. Humans then began forging common myths about imagined worlds, and in so doing created allegiances of people that believed in those myths. It was this newfound ability that enabled people to cooperate flexibly in large numbers, to group together against common enemies, to wipe out hostile enemies and animals, and to begin domesticating animals and growing crops. Similarly, says Harari, it was by building pyramids – in the mind, in imagined orders and hierarchies, as much as on the ground – that humanity advanced. And then came the long process of unifying humankind and colonising Earth until the Scientific Revolution began about 500 years ago, which is still in progress today. So, it seems as though storytelling was the pivotal point in creating connections that led to our advancement as a species. 99FM MYD is about storytelling. As the amazing 99FM MYD team has shown us with their first publication in 2017, you don’t need to scratch
very deep to find hugely inspirational stories in our wonderful country. These stories renew our faith in the good of humankind. By its nature, media generally focuses on negativism. Bad news is good news. But 99FM MYD shifts that paradigm to the opposite end of the spectrum. The very first section in this year’s 99FM MYD journal is titled “The human connection”. How appropriate is that? It all started with the human connection. Whether or not we were happier as the proverbial hunter-gatherer coming
Photo by: Olwen Evans
home with a springbok slung over our shoulders, or in our modern-day rush to compete, is irrelevant. We need to create our own happiness and foster the culture of supporting our fellow humans, our wonderful environment and the amazing creatures that inhabit it. Connection. I can think of no better theme for this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 99FM MYD journal.
such a dynamic team of positive and inspirational people. We need more good stories.
Mark Dawe Managing Director & Country Manager B2Gold Namibia 13 March 2018
And this is why we at B2Gold will continue to support 99FM MYD and are proud to be associated with
Board members of Save the Rhino Trust and special delegates of B2Gold in Damaraland, celebrating a zero-rhino-poaching 2017 holiday season. This milestone serves as a global case study of what can be achieved if stakeholders, partners, communities, governments, donors and supporters unite for good.
KIRSTY WATERMEYER 99FM MYD SHOW PRODUCER & FEATURE EDITOR The hardest part of collating this second edition of the 99FM MYD Journal was the selection process.
Each story you are about to read reveals a person who inspired me, whose dedication and passion moved me. Each person I have interviewed has become a much-loved and cherished friend. I am sure as you journey through these pages you will see why, and you will cherish these incredible people too.
A year of weekly interviews in studio, environmentally focused talk shows, written articles about the arts, community work, and business building in Namibia results in a large amount of content, all worthy and important.
What you will also notice is that they are no different to you and me. We too can be as inspiring as they are when we learn to listen to our hearts, follow our dreams and fill every space we find in ourselves with love.
I am never short of incredible stories, incredible people and incredible happenings in Namibia, but not everything could fit into this book, and narrowing down the selection was a harrowing task.
Last year the 99FM MYD Show was shortlisted by the New York Festivals Awards Program as one of the Top 5 Best Talk Radio Shows in the World, which proves again that the human story is universal and ours hold ground anywhere in the world. The 99FM MYD Earth Show also received recognition with an award for Pioneering Journalism in the field of Sustainable Development. Another leap forward was taking the 99FM MYD Show to television, with One Africa Television now broadcasting our in-studio discussions nationwide. This means that the magic of the 99FM MYD Show reaches people through radio, podcast, SoundCloud, YouTube, social media, print and now television. It gives me so much joy to see the evolution of this show that few believed in when we started this journey, doubting if we would find enough positive Namibian stories to sustain a platform. The truth is, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve only just begun. And if we succeed in our quest to inspire you, Namibians from all walks of life, to Master Your Destiny, we will never run out of stories at all. As you read through these pages, it is my wish that you too see the power of people and the golden thread that connects us all.
CONTENTS The Human Connection 08
Thuli Madonsela Keeper of the flame
Suta Kavari Notes from Beirut
Kazenambo Kazenambo Our duty to make a difference
Nangula Uaandja Beyond the glass ceiling
Loide Nantinda Our Likeness: What connects the women of the world?
Connecting Beyond Boundaries 30
Deon Namiseb Everybodyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s able
Sandra van Zyl A powerful sense for flowers
Prosthetics Now printed in Namibia
Hermien Elago From triple digits to Two Oceans
Pedro Kapirika An alternative to violence
Bruce Salt Channelling for good
Brandy Shoombe Healed to heal
The Passion-Persistence Connection 50
Lira Lira means love
Suzi Eises Working hard and all that jazz
The Legend of Slowtown Coffee Blood, sweat, success
Tuli Shityuwete Raindancing
Ingo Shanyenge Fashionably Namibian
Tobias Nashilongo Fighting for life
John de Almeida Passion takes flight
Community Connections 72
Rosa Namises Mothering a nation
Operi Tjiteere If the shoe fits â&#x20AC;Ś
Dr Ruben Kanime The village doctor
Kyle Weeks The balancing act of an unedited culture
The Riverwalk Project reimagines urban integration The space between us is where we can be
The Tradition-Innovation Connection 94
Loux the Vintage Guru While you were sleeping
Isai Aindongo Reinventing the pottery wheel
Namibia’s Creative Advantage An idea to think about
Rachel Kalipi’s Mahangu Cookie revolution
Informal Enterprise in Namibia Leisure economies mean business
Risto Iita From dust to dish
Aron Hamukwaya Raising the Owela game
The Art-Life Connection 114
John Kalunda Art imitates urban life
Tity Tshilumba An outsider looking in
Elke le Roux Stories of structures
Moris David Wired
Petrus Amuthenu Print in his blood
McBreaton Pieters Find yourself dancing
Karel Prinsloo A shot at Africa
The Earth-Education Connection 132
Maxi Louis Champion of communal conservancies
Aleksandra Ørbeck-Nilssen Layers of humankind
Save the Rhino Trust Heroes of hope for our rhinos
Annika Funke Drawing children closer to nature
The Rare and Endangered Species Trust Scaling up to save the pangolin
Children in the Wilderness Educating the custodians of the future
Disconnect to Connect 150
Dr Manfred Spitzer The child’s brain and technology (Press Esc)
Lauren Voges Friends are therapy
Elise Heikkinen-Johnstone Sorry, you’re breaking up ...
Luis Munana Guts, Camera, Action
KEEPER OF THE FLAME THULI MADONSELA Time magazine identified Thuli Madonsela as one of the world’s one hundred most influential people in 2014, and Forbes magazine named her Forbes Africa ‘Person of the year’ in 2016.
MYD: Beautiful, but it also comes with its hardships. There is a difficult process involved and obviously dealing with unethical practices must be extremely frustrating. What is your take on ethical leadership? TM: Firstly, with enormous power, there is enormous responsibility. Ethical leadership is a must for everyone who exercises entrusted power, whether it is in the private sector or in government. In government, in fact, it’s stated in black and white: Section 195 of the Constitution of South Africa makes it compulsory for everyone who works for the State to implement the highest level of professional ethics. Entrusted power has to be exercised in terms of the rules and values that are the basis of your being given that power. If you act in breach of those rules, trust will be broken and people’s lives will be undermined, but more than anything else, public peace will be compromised.
fter the first democratic elections in South Africa, Thuli helped draft the country’s final constitution promulgated by then President Nelson Mandela. She went on to become the third South African Public Protector and the first woman to occupy this position until her term of office ended in October 2016. Her relentless fight for justice – in the face of personal adversity and even death threats – has made her an international icon of integrity and faith in Africa. MYD spoke to her in 2016 about her role as Public Protector. MYD: You’ve been an inspiration to so many women around Africa. What has it been like for you? TM: It has been a blast really. Yes, my team and I have done our best because we have a job to do. We have to find out what happened, what should have happened, if there is a discrepancy, how to restore a situation to normalcy. It is a kind of restorative justice and, in the process, we have attracted a bit of flack, but we have also attracted a lot of gratitude and a lot of support, and if I were to weigh the negative reaction we have received up against the positive reaction we have received, I would say that the positive negates the negative.
MYD: What do you think is necessary in our African path to peace? TM: I think part of the African path to peace is recognising injustices of the past, embracing that pain and then letting go of it. That is the first part of the way to peace in Africa. We’ve got to recognise it was cruel and then let go of it, but we then need to ensure that in our day-to-day practices we promote social justice, and deal with the conflicts generated by destitution, hunger and poverty. They say a hungry person is an angry person. I’m not suggesting people should be angry, because anger corrodes the soul that holds it more than it affects their object of the anger. But because of a sense of injustice, a sense of unfairness, the reality of abject poverty in the face of growing inequality and the rich getting richer, people feel so angry. When it comes to those of us who are employed by the State, we come from those poor communities. If they see me rocking up in my four-by-four and dressed up to the nines when their last meal was three days ago, it is very stressful for them. But I would say we have to work on that anger. I would like to harvest that anger and channel it towards problem-solving because, as I have said, it corrodes the soul. Anger can be harnessed to say okay, this has happened, how do we seek justice in a constructive way and, more than anything else, how do we improve our fortunes?
MYD: What drove you to stand up and speak out against injustice? TM: It really has all been about gratitude. The gratitude of being placed in this position of enormous responsibility, where I can make a difference in people’s lives. Every day you meet ordinary people, the Joe Soaps – in South Africa we call them the ‘Gogo Dlaminis’ or ‘Granny Dlaminis’ – who would have been victims of the abuse of power or abuse of State resources in one way or another, or just bad administration, and we restore hope and dignity to those people. That gives me enormous joy. I was telling a meeting today that yesterday I got feedback that two startup business people had got their money paid by government. It had been a long struggle; they had lost everything. Just hearing the story, that the money had been paid, I jumped for joy. Everyone makes a difference in the work they do, but not everyone is as lucky as we are to see the impact of our work every day.
Most of the inventors and people who changed the world through innovation or who are now running successful businesses were people who were angry about some injustice in society. But it motivated them to be successful almost as their revenge against injustice.
out of school, he stopped paying for my fees. So from then on I depended on the generosity of strangers, mostly from Europe, through these bursaries that were sent to Africa by people who were choosing to eat less, and to live lives that were more contained as opposed to having all the luxuries. They were sending some of their money to Africa so that the African child could be educated.
MYD: A perfect example would be Nelson Mandela. TM: Oh, absolutely, he is an excellent example of using the experience of injustice and cruelty to become a champion of a better world and teach people how to treat others better, including the ones who treated him and others badly.
MYD: After you finished school, where did you go from there? TM: I went to university temporarily and I registered for a BA Humanities because I had wanted to study law. There is a long story about my parents and my church encouraging me to do my LLB, but by the time I applied for law it was too late, so I did Humanities, dropped out, went back home and tried to enrol at Wits – but they wouldn’t recognise an O Level high school certificate; they wanted an A Level. So I taught a bit, joined the trade union movement and went back to university and studied Law. I then worked as a trade unionist for a bit during my university days, which was when I joined part of the struggle in South Africa, mostly the civic part of the struggle. I taught and researched at Wits University, worked and then joined Government in 1995. I went back to private practice in 2001 and joined Government again in 2007 as a full-time commissioner until I became Public Protector in 2009.
MYD: Yes, exactly. Which is phenomenal – to take your difficult situation and not let it poison you but to use that experience to be even better. TM: Absolutely, but I think Madiba was not really a phenomenal man, and I know this comes across badly. I think he was an ordinary man who is part of a generation that did extraordinary things. Because if I look at what Madiba said and did, I find the same spirit every time I speak to Ahmed Kathrada, who is still living [Ahmed Kathrada passed away after this interview, on 28 March 2017] – that same sense of forgiveness. He [Kathrada] went to jail when he was young, so he was deprived of the opportunity to father any children and to get married at the point when he could make children, but he remains very resilient, very forgiving and very optimistic about creating better societies and a better world. So I would say yes, these are ordinary people, but I think what set them apart was forgiveness for a past that was unjust and unfair. And then they used the alliance to create a world where what happened to them should never happen to anyone at all.
MYD: I am sure there were moments when you could have decided to look at was going wrong versus where you wanted to be, and you would have been another angry person. But forging forward despite the circumstances, I am sure, is a big part of what led you to be sitting here today. TM: You are right that somehow my life focused on how I could improve my fortunes and the fortunes of my family and my people. I think my life was mostly focused on how I could change society it in a positive way. I would thank my parents and my church for that, because I was a Seventh Day Adventist and of course the spirit was one of forgiveness, but also there was the spirit of community service – because when you focus on serving others, you lose sight of your own pain and your own injustices. The people you’re looking after become the main focus and your own pain diminishes in the process. My father taught us to focus on that which we can change as opposed to that which harms us.
MYD: Such a beautiful way of looking at life, and I suppose whatever circumstance you’re facing, you can look for a path to create the world you want to see. TM: That’s why you don’t have to be phenomenal – you just have to be an ordinary person who focuses on improving your fortunes and improving the fortunes of others. In other words, your life then becomes not a monument to injustice but it becomes a monument to a better world. MYD: How did you end up where you are today, with such wisdom? TM: My journey has been one of extraordinary kindness and compassion from people, and moments of cruelty and struggle like everyone else. I am a child born during apartheid to a working-class family in Johannesburg, and I experienced the cruelty of apartheid. But growing up I also experienced the kindness of strangers, and that’s how I got educated after passing Grade 10. My father was a very disciplined, hardworking person, who believed the only helping hand you get is the one at the end of your arm. But he was a bit particular about education. He thought once you had learnt enough to take instructions in English, then that was good, because he grew up in that generation where the black child was supposed to learn how to take instructions. So with me he thought, okay, you can now go and do nursing – that’s super-educated. And when I refused to drop
MYD: It’s such a beautiful philosophy for life. Do you have any personal philosophy that you live by? TM: One of them is forgiveness, understanding that resentment will harm me more than it harms the next person. Then, understanding that everyone is doing the best they can – when they know better, they’ll do better. And lastly, I always say, “Do what you have to do, so that life can give you the space to do the things you would like to do.”
or everything that can be said about rectifying the injustices of our political past, nothing will ever be able to give back the lost opportunities or compensate for the unfulfilled potential. The consequences continue to affect generations down the line, where limited resources impact choices, education and dreams.
To make the impossible possible for the children of its employees, regardless of rank or file, paying for an education that can alter their destiny is probably the closest an organisation can get to restoring the balance for our nation. This is the policy at Afrox. Dorothy Wemmert has worked for Afrox for 36 years. Through the company’s education policy, Dorothy’s daughter was able to get the education that Dorothy herself had to forfeit. “When I passed standard 6, my grandmother told me to go to work, but I wanted to stay in school so I spoke to the school’s principal. The principal told my grandmother that he would look after me. I was able
to stay in school, where I played tennis and netball, and I passed standard 7, but two days before school closed in December, the principal died from a heart attack. “My grandmother kept insisting that I should get a job, so I worked for a year, and then stayed home for the next five years. “Then, in 1980, I got a job at Afrox as a filing clerk for a salary of R12.32 per week. I was 17, turning 18 that year. Those years you had to be versatile, so I also made the tea and worked as a cashier. In 1988 I was employed full time and I started earning R400 a month. “I continued working, becoming a supervisor, and I started a family. One of the benefits of working for Afrox is that if your children want to acquire a tertiary education, Afrox pays for their studies. I was very lucky. My daughter completed her matric, went to South Africa and studied Radio Oncology. “In her first year at university, she passed with three distinctions. Now she is working at the Windhoek
Central Hospitals’ cancer radiation department and finishing her PhD.” Dorothy’s story is only one of many at Afrox. Elifas Naunyange, a cylinder painter with only a basic command of English, is proudly witnessing his son’s attendance at the University in Namibia. Frank Engelbrecht, who recently retired, is comforted to know that his three sons are making a good life for themselves and their families as a result of the bursary scheme available to Afrox employees. Afrox is making a difference, where education and dreams once deferred are now realized.
131 Mandume Ndemufayo Ave Southern Industria Windhoek Tel: +264 (61) 387000 Fax: +264 (61) 257982 www.afrox-gas-namibia.com
OUR DUTY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE KAZENAMBO KAZENAMBO Kazenambo Kazenambo is well known in the Namibian political arena for vocally raising controversial issues. After joining SWAPO in 1979 at the age of sixteen, Kazemambo fought with the movement until 1989, when negotiations ended the Namibian War of Independence.
ost-independence, he has served as Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Local and Regional Government Housing and Rural Development, and as Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture. Kazenambo is known as a man of his word. Here he shares with us his thoughts on duty and how he finds inner peace.
find things that will bring our people closer together. Of course we know very well that there are policies whose legacies are still haunting and negatively impacting us, but we have got a responsibility. Those who shaped those policies are no longer here. We are here, and it’s our duty to shape the situation, shape the environment, hands on, without crying about the past.
MYD: Kazenambo, what does inner peace mean to you? KK: I think the most important thing is to have peace in yourself. You must know that you are on this earth for a purpose. If you are at war with yourself, you’ll always be on a warpath with everything. If you are frustrated and you believe that the frustration that you are going through is caused by the next person, then you are definitely going to have a problem on this earth. First and foremost, you must shape your own destiny. You must know what you want to achieve. You must know where you want to go. You must analyse where you are and how to overcome challenges because we all face challenges in life.
MYD: Let’s talk about mindset and how this affects our success in Namibia. KK: Society is an amalgamation of individuals, a coming together of individuals. It’s up to me how I stand up and provide for myself, to deal with the current season. Government may assist me in the process, other human beings may assist me in the process, but my mindset will determine everything. I must be a self-starter; I must look for opportunities. Namibia belongs to everybody, and I’ve got a role to contribute to the improvement of this commonage. I see people knocking the next person, blaming the next person, vilifying the next person, either ethnically, religiously or otherwise, and for me this is a weak link. Blaming other people, sitting back and just relaxing in that queue, blaming your fate or your misfortunes on others – for me, that’s self-colonisation, a self-defeating approach. If something is obstructing me from taking off, I should ask myself whether these obstacles come from government policy, if they are man-made or what my contribution is to creating them. Am I an obstacle myself? I must distinguish that.
MYD: Absolutely. And how do you feel we can apply this in Namibia? We have had a difficult past, one that’s caused great hurt. How can we get onto a path of peace with all that hurt? KK: The most important tool of liberation is to liberate yourself mentally. With the correct mindset you will climb mountains and cross valleys, but with the wrong mindset you will not move an inch. We cannot keep looking back. History provides a very important reference point as to our background, but we cannot get stagnated by always referring to the past. The past is the past – we must deal with the present in order to shape the future. I always say that we are the leaders we have been waiting for. It means that we are the leaders who should shape tomorrow economically and socially. If our people were separated based on religion, based on colour, based on ethnicity, we must draw lessons from those separations and improve, and
MYD: I love the word you said, self-colonisation. It shocked me, but it is true. KK: There are thousands of people who have colonised themselves. They have surrendered to other human beings. If you are liberated, nobody will tell you how to live. It’s for you to say: “I am a human being and I belong to the earth, and all opportunities on earth are available to me as long as I do it within the boundaries of the law. I’m the self-liberator; the sky is the limit for me.”
If you are liberated, you will know that democracy provides space for all of us to articulate ourselves on issues. It provides space for us to say, “No, you cannot cross this boundary.” In a democracy there is no oppression, there is no suppression. That’s why I like democracy: you unleash your potential, be it mentally or physically. It’s not a one-man show or a one-woman show. Democracy provides freedom and liberty for us to take ownership, and we as a nation have responsibility. That is why we must always ask ourselves, “What is my responsibility towards this situation? What is my responsibility and contribution towards the development of the country?” MYD: Exactly. On a more personal note, Kazenambo, in your political career, how did you find inner peace when people were attacking you because of your views? KK: My father was a pastor and I grew up around many people. Something that I found to be a guiding principle in life is that you must always be truthful to yourself. Truth is a liberator. Don’t lie to yourself. In many cases I was attacked on the field of politics, but it is my right to question things. Honesty, truthfulness, fairness and justice are my guiding principles; they are my breakfast, they are my lunch, they are my dinner, they are my sleeping pills. I’m not engaging with the world maliciously. I engage with the world to push myself further, and I will push myself further and I will push my society further. I relate to human beings not based on their colour, not based on their religion, not based on their language, not based on friendship. I relate to human beings. I appreciate and celebrate human beings’ achievements. MYD: It’s so much about knowing what your purpose is, and this is clear in your life. Is there something that has helped you with this mindset? KK: There is a book I read called ‘It’s Not Rocket Science’, which says that there are no limits. While people are ridiculing your aims and objectives, focus on your aims and objectives. If you want to go for it, go for it. It’s not rocket science – even rocket science was invented by human beings. So always have a positive mind. It’s the world’s duty to put obstacles in your way; it’s your duty to cross those obstacles. Our duty is to make a difference in a positive way. I will just keep on contributing based on fairness, justice for all and solidarity. Those who are here to break human beings and break other beings, I am not their friend. They are not my partners in the mission. MYD: What wisdom would you want to pass on to others, Kazenambo? KK: My message is simple. We are here in our different colours, in our different sizes and in our differences. Let us relate and contribute. Our mission should be to make an improvement. Our duty should be to face the challenges together. Let’s listen with respect. Let’s have an environment where we listen and hear one another.
“Namibia belongs to everybody, and I’ve got a role to contribute to the improvement of this commonage.”
OUR LIKENESS: WHAT CONNECTS THE WOMEN OF THE WORLD? LOIDE NANTINDA From the north of Namibia to New York City, Loide Nantinda has made her mark as a model for international companies such as Levi Strauss and Royal Dutch Shell, and has acted in international feature films and soap operas such as Generations.
MYD: What would you say is the highlight of your career so far? LN: It’s definitely starting this documentary project, because this is something that I gave birth to from my experiences. It’s a result of a spiritual journey of seeking who I am, who God is and what my purpose is, and eventually coming up with this project which people, especially women, have responded so well to.
ow Loide has produced Our Likeness, a crowdfunded documentary for which she travelled to fifteen different countries in search of the similarities among women in cultures from across the globe. MYD: Loide, how did you get to where you are today? LN: I was raised mostly by my grandparents, because my mom had me at a young age. My grandparents were business pioneers. My granddad was also a traveller, so I just followed whatever he did. He was a bit out of the box and I think it rubbed off. I became a model with Boss Models. They were like, “Well, you are kind of skinny and tall,” so I was stuck in modelling for a while, but I wanted to be an actress. Eventually when I moved to Johannesburg I started acting in commericials and in shows like Generations. Seven years into my career there, I felt very constricted. Not because South Africa wasn’t great – it was and I learnt a lot – but I felt that I had more to contribute and I really wanted a different platform. So I decided to go and just see what was out there.
MYD: Tell us about Our Likeness. LN: Our Likeness is a documentary. I travelled to fifteen countries that encompass a lot of different cultures to film what women look like – not only physically but also what they look like inside. I look at the feminine identity and the spirit of sisterhood. When women are together and they are one-minded and know who they are, they are very powerful and they can move a society. That’s what the project really is about: filming what we look like, to remember who we are as women, that feminine spiritual, sacred divinity that was originally created within us. MYD: One of the things I love about this project is that you are looking at the differences between women from all over the world, and finding how similar we are in what we want and in what we strive for. LN: Yes, and who we think we are. I feel like all women will be able to find themselves somewhere in this film. I was always very curious and I’ve always had a dream, from a very young age, about going to live with the Himba women. I’ve had a vision of sitting with them but until filming there I never thought that I would actually go and live with them, like sisters. Now they ask when I’m coming back; they worry about me. They enjoyed the experience. It’s so worth it. There are women out there who are going to be moved by the film.
MYD: Did you always want to be a filmmaker? LN: Yes, I definitely knew from a young age, even from primary school. I went to a primary school in Windhoek and I remember I always put on shows in the hostel. And then I hosted reality talent shows and things like that in my high school drama department in Swakopmund. I was always a bit otherwise. If you are passionate about the dream you have in your heart and you are gifted in that area, then please do go for it. At the end of the day, if it’s for you, it will happen and it will happen at the right time. But you also need to be very realistic about the fact that you will have to make sacrifices.
MYD: As a Namibian living in New York, what’s been the hardest adjustment for you? LN: It’s the way people have no knowledge of Africa or even the countries in Africa – you have to explain yourself and your identity and where you come from all the time. Then it was financially very challenging to go and travel on my own funding, and with just the goodness of my friends and people around me. MYD: Who inspires you, Loide? LN: I would say the number one person who inspires me is my grandmother. She is the one who started that spirit of sisterhood in me. Then, obviously, God Himself. I’m a person who believes in a divine being who guides us. Throughout my life I’ve always prayed and I ask for guidance. MYD: What is your take on expectations in life? LN: When people talk about expectations, I always see possibilities. I think expectations are also a way of creating a vision. MYD: What about your expectations of yourself? LN: I look inside and I say, “I just want to be authentic.” So every single day, in every moment, I just strive to be authentic to who I really am and what I really want out of life. MYD: What is the most valuable piece of advice you have ever been given? LN: Recently, I was speaking to one of my mentors and I was freaking out. I’d been having anxiety attacks and not sleeping and my mentor said, “There comes a time when you have to face that thing. It’s always been with you from a very young age, and you know it. It’s a toothless tiger, and you’ve got to face it.” Once you become fearless and you decide that you’re going to survive and live no matter what, then you are unstoppable. I do it within the boundaries of the law. I’m the self-liberator; the sky is the limit for me.”
“I look at the feminine identity and the spirit of sisterhood. When women are together and they are one-minded and know who they are, they are very powerful and they can move a society.” 18
HOPE. FAITH. AND ABOVE ALL, LOVE...
ister Anthea van Wyk had a calling from God. She was to set up a fully fledged oncology centre to serve and help the people of Namibia.
Now, most people might have negotiated for a slightly smaller, more realistic mission – one that did not require an astronomical financial investment, super-specialised technology and an army of the most giving, loving specialist staff, not to mention of the forest of medical, political and industrial red tape. But not Anthea. She did not budge. She did not compromise. And she has managed to establish a monument of faith, hope, and above all, love. The angels who walk the isles of the Namibia Oncology Centre echo this sentiment, without exception. There are many stories. Here are three: Sharifa Cloete, caregiver I cared for my grandmother, and even when I worked as a cleaner at the kidney dialysis centre, I was so near to the patients that I always ended up helping them. When I came to the NOC, I realised that to do this job you must have a heart for patients, to love and support that. Not only the patient, but also the family members, because this journey is tough, so they also need your support. When my son was a baby, he was diagnosed with cancer. He was admitted to Central Hospital and
there were so many children with different types of cancer. As a single mother, I went to the hospital every day for six months, and I just prayed for God to give me the strength to go through this. Now Edward is nine years old, in grade 3, and he plays soccer. He is my joy and happiness. That journey prepared me. Now I can enter a patient’s room and know that it could be my mother, my sister or my child. I let them know that I’ve been there; I know how it feels. I don’t think you totally understand the journey, if you haven’t experienced it yourself. I tell them “Don’t give up. It’s not like cancer is a penalty, it’s not something you did wrong. God already prepared you for this trip, né.” AT NOC, the doctors are very special. When Dr van Wyk enters a room, he will ask the patient, “How are you?” and he will pray for them and you can even see the joy on their faces and you can feel the atmosphere changing. Sometimes it is very hard, but even then there are blessings. There was a patient, her daughter was there to visit her, and I could see time was running out. I asked her what was in her parcel. She said, “It’s a present for my mom, because it’s Mother’s Day.” I told her, “You open that present right now.” It was lotion, so together we rubbed her mother’s whole body with the lotion. My shift ended at seven o’clock and I went home, and just past seven she died. But the daughter had that moment to spend with her
mother, the last. Step by step, all the way, and at the end of the day there are patients who are getting discharged, patients who are getting well, so there is hope. Worship Muzangwa, registered nurse in the chemotherapy unit I am so happy to work here. I was born in Zimbabwe and got my chemo training in Botswana, so my challenge was Afrikaans. Oh my goodness, “Goeie môre,” and, I’m like, “I’m going to learn this language, because these patients they need me. They need this language for me to talk to them, to communicate.” Now I can communicate here and there. Not very “mooi”, but I can talk. The patients, they have gotten used to me and they like my broken Afrikaans. The best part of my job is to give chemotherapy. I know my chemotherapy like someone who has written the book – no matter what, I don’t hesitate. I counsel my patient; that’s my best part because I want my patient to know that there’s life after this chemotherapy. So I sit down with them, I tell them what chemotherapy is and how it works in the body. My patient must know what’s happening and the family must know because they go home after chemotherapy, but the chemo is still in the system. So it’s significant – others must know how to handle this patient. Cancer patients, when they come for chemotherapy, they become part of you. If they pass away, that is very hard, but you have to be
very strong. If you are going to cry, you go to cry somewhere else. When you come out, you’ve fixed your face, you’ve put powder, “hello, hello, hello,” but it’s still haunting. It can only be managed if you are working with people who are loving. We pray, before we come to work, we pray in the boardroom. Yes, we can give medication, but the healing part is God. Melanie Grobler, medical physicist I was born here in Windhoek. I was in matric when my father became ill. He had glioblastoma, brain cancer. That’s basically when I decided I wanted to do this. Throughout his treatment, I saw what he went through and it interested me. I always liked physics, so the best way to combine physics and healthcare was to do medical physics. After studies, an internship and working at Tygerberg Hospital for five years, NOC offered me a position and I came back to Namibia. People who choose this as a career must have the ability to be accurate, to solve problems, mathematical or otherwise, to make a plan if something doesn’t work out. The medical physicist must make sure that the radiation machine gives the exact radiation dosage to the patient as prescribed by the doctor, that it rotates exactly as prescribed, and that everything works together and is within tolerance. I like to compare it to a chemist. In a pharmacy you work with medicine; here you work with a machine that gives radiation. The best part of my job is helping people, trying to help them cope with the uncertainties. They don’t know what is waiting for them in the future and with oncology, chemo and radiation, especially radiation. It’s a very strange room, strange machine, everything is big and intimidating.
have satellite stations or offices so that we could actually treat people closer to home. Because it’s such a long treatment – they may have to stay here for more than a month, six weeks, seven weeks. If we had satellite stations then we could actually treat them and they could be at home, which would make them more comfortable.
The Namibian Oncology Centre 3 Heliodoor Street, Eros, Windhoek E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: +264 83 330 5015 www.namoncology.com
But this place is amazing. They really care for the people they treat. We are really one big family. As for the future, it would be wonderful if we could reach more people outside of Windhoek and
NOTES FROM BEIRUT SUTA KAVARI As Vice Chairperson of the Economic Association of Namibia and one of Namibia’s most prolific economists, Suta Kavari was involved in facilitating discussions and debates around the most pressing economic themes in our country.
MYD: Exactly. Because after all, we are the masters of our destinies.
hat was until he quit his job and went to Beirut, Lebanon, to work in social-development projects with Syrian refugees. His story was shared on The MYD Show before he left, and again after he’d returned from the experience. Before Suta left Namibia for Lebanon ...
After Suta returned to Namibia from Lebanon . . . MYD: Welcome back, Suta! We are delighted to have you back not only on the show, but also back on Namibian soil. Tell us about your experience. SK: Thanks, Kirsty. I was in Lebabon for two months and it was one of the most eye-opening experiences of my life. The biggest thing I learnt was about the power of collective good. Lebanon has a lot of problems – government is essentially nonexistent, and some vital services don’t get provided. For example, in Beirut, where I was living, there was a massive garbage problem and the government was ineffective in collecting garbage. The citizens of Beirut got together and formed a way of just getting rid of the garbage. The power of people was inspiring – getting out of the formal structures of governance and finding solutions to some of the key pressing challenges. Social entrepreneurship was a concept I wasn’t really aware of until I got to Lebanon. I saw its power as a tool for sustainable development. Entrepreneurs who are socially driven can turn societal challenges into marketable opportunities, and this is a way of easing tensions in communities, providing jobs and also providing essential services that wouldn’t necessarily be provided outside formal structures of governance. That was very inspiring – seeing how people can turn societal challenges into opportunities that are sustainable and also have a social impact.
MYD: Suta, you’re about to embark on a journey to assist others. Tell us about this. SK: I asked myself the question, “Am I happy, am I growing?” and while the answer was, “Yes, I am happy,” I also found I needed a new challenge. After a few months of mulling it over, I decided that I needed to do something meaningful and I had the idea of working with Syrian refugees in a refugee camp. I spoke to people in the humanitarian space who said that it’s a tough environment if you’re not trained for it. It’s very draining; it’s very depressing because it’s people’s reality. I decided that I still wanted to be part of the solution, but using something centred around my skills. The most important thing to me is to help wherever I can, so I decided I would use my skills in policy development. MYD: Do you have any message to share before you jet off to Lebanon? SK: To anyone who finds themselves in the space I was in – consistently thinking about and wanting to do something different but not wanting to uproot their lives, which is a valid concern – my message is to do it. It’s really surprising how life works: once you have an idea and you actually take that initial step, it’s amazing how things just sort of fall into place.
MYD: Incredible, and what was it like working with refugees? What did you learn through that? SK: That was also an eye-opener. I had an idea of what a refugee camp was and what I found was, yes, it was run down, it was congested and impoverished, but it was also someone’s home. One woman was telling us a story of how she came from Syria to be in the refugee camp in Beirut. She explained how her husband was brutally murdered in front of their son, who was six at that time, the horror of how her family was killed, how she’d fled, and how she was now trying to make
MYD: And there are also so many spaces in your community that need help. You don’t have to travel far away to help. SK: Exactly – there is a lot to do in Namibia. You can help with rhino protection; you can help the local communities of Havana. At the same time, don’t let others dictate your journey. If you can help locally, then do it, but if you want to explore the world while you help, then do that. Just don’t let the terms of your journey be dictated by someone else or some other experience.
a living selling wedding dresses. She sells maybe one dress a month, and doesn’t make enough to live on in an expensive city like Beirut, but there’s a sense of community in the camps where people help each other, and it’s also incredibly hospitable. She offered us water when we got there, but tap water in Beirut is very dodgy – she saw we weren’t drinking it and so, with the little that she had, she went to go buy us apple juice to make us more comfortable. That was slightly heartbreaking, but it also shows that at the end of the day, people are just people, whatever walks of life they are from. I remember leaving the camp afterwards and seeing the children playing. It had rained a few days earlier – they were playing in the mud. It’s dirty, there is no sanitation. It was the saddest sight, but those children were happy, laughing, being kids. What struck me is that this is all they know and all they have. Right now, they are happy. My experience taught me how communities get together to help each other. That resonated a lot with me – it is how I grew up, how people around helped my mom to get me through school and to where I am right now. I think we tend to discount the value communities have in shaping society and in shaping a nation. I’m reading a very interesting book now on South African post-apartheid housing, and how the focus has been on building houses instead of building communities. I think we need to focus on creating communities. I think once you have people together, you get collective responsibilities and a sense of belonging, and that’s how you grow and build a nation.
Western powers are essentially saying no one cares, and this is a message coming through from Europe as well. You get a lot of people saying, “No one cares, and why was I born in this region?” MYD: And what do you think will be the result of this attitude? SK: I think it shows the worst side of humanity – people are not fleeing for anything else other than the fact that they don’t want to die. When we remove empathy and basic care for people, this is history repeating itself. MYD: What could a solution be that we could all be a part of? SK: Just extend a helping hand. The power of just talking to someone, making them feel human – it also takes their minds off their harsh realities, and that goes a long way. That’s why communities play such a big role. At the end of the day, people just want to feel like they belong to something, that they belong to a community, that they are also worth something. I was out in Beirut one night and a friend of mine forgot her phone and wallet on the side of the road. It was picked up by a Syrian refugee who parks cars. He dialled the last number on the phone and my friend’s roommate arranged to get the phone back to my friend. When the Synrian man dropped it off, he was thanked for his effort and for returning the phone and wallet. Afterwards, he sent a text to the number saying, “Thank you for being kind to me. I really appreciate it.” All we had done to this man was shake his hand and say, “Thank you for returning the phone,” but that was the most kindness he had received in a really long time.
MYD: Absolutely. Suta, what’s the general feeling in the refugee camp? SK: Obviously spirits are deflated. I went hiking when I was in Lebanon, in this beautiful nature reserve, and I met two Syrian refugees who worked there. They said, “Well, Syria has gone but at least we are planting,” because they were planting cedar trees in this nature reserve. That struck a chord. Imagine being so hopeless that you are never going to return to your country – I can’t even imagine a scenario where Namibia wouldn’t be an option, where my home country wouldn’t exist any more. Yet they felt they had hope because they were planting something. I interacted with people who live in constant fear – imagine being removed from everything that you’ve known your whole life, living in a foreign place and being treated like a second-class citizen, and yet you still hope that things are going to get better, you are going to return. So there is that sense of hope, but it’s very hard maintaining that sense of hope when there’s such disparity, such despair, and it’s constantly perpetuated with people. When I went travelling through Europe, people would talk about the immigrant crisis and I would get very angry. I’ve had interactions with the people and when you say the word ‘immigrant’, you remove the humanity from someone. A lot of the rhetoric at the moment is a very clever use of language to advance propaganda. When you talk about a ‘refugee’, there’s a sense of empathy and humanity that goes with it. But when you use the word ‘immigrant’, you remove a lot of empathy.
MYD: That is a humbling story, Suta. What an important and beautiful message you’ve come to share with us. Anything else you like to share – a message for Namibia? SK: I think Namibians, we’re in a very fortunate space. I think once you remove yourself and you come back, you have a better appreciation of how good we have it here. We have infrastructure that works, we have some of the nicest people around and we have a lot going for us. Here, we have all the elements, the ingredients, of greatness. We need to believe in ourselves, we need to be the change we want to see by coming together. We should spread a few more smiles. It’s great to be back home.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think Namibians, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in a very fortunate space. I think once you remove yourself and you come back, you have a better appreciation of how good we have it here. We have infrastructure that works, we have some of the nicest people around and we have a lot going for us. Here, we have all the elements, the ingredients, of greatness.â&#x20AC;? 25
BEYOND THE GLASS CEILING NANGULA UAANDJA Nangula Uaandja has spent decades breaking barriers, always gracefully and with purpose – but not always on purpose.
aving been the first black female to register as a chartered accountant in Namibia, Nangula is now Country Senior Partner of PwC Namibia. But her life is about so much more than work: it is about faith, responsibility and overcoming life’s adversities. Nangula shared her story with 99FM MYD.
what the business was making. I then started feeling that somebody needed to help my father, that perhaps it was my responsibility to study something that would help him with his business. At first I thought it had to be economics because I was never exposed to accounting. So I applied to UNAM to study for a Bachelor of Economics degree. Only when I started doing the research into what experts my father needed to help him with his business did I find out that there were chartered accountants. So the next year I changed my degree to a Bachelor of Commerce, and I applied to Coopers & Lybrand for holiday work. I was called in for an interview and the partner who interviewed me became my life long mentor, Dawie Fourie. He said yes, I should definitely come for holiday work, and the rest is history.
MYD: Tell us your story. NU: I grew up in the north of Namibia, just a few kilometres from the border of Angola. When I was sixteen, I crossed the border to Angola and went into exile because I’d heard that you could get a good education if you did so. I stayed in Angola for a couple of months and then, through the SWAPO Party, I was blessed to get a scholarship from the UNHCR to study in Sierra Leone, along with about ten other Namibian students. Before I could finish grade 12, however, civil war broke out in Sierra Leone. For those who saw the film Blood Diamond, it’s based on the war in Sierra Leone. So when the rebels came, I decided to go home.
MYD: Where did you get your drive to help your family and push forward? NU: I’ve always had this sense of responsibility. Life is a responsibility, and I feel like I was created for a purpose. I’m here to make a difference – not to live for myself, but to live for what God wants me to do. I feel that perhaps He put the desire in me for something that I need to do, and therefore I feel an obligation, I feel compelled. I am so sure that if I do not respond to that urge inside me, I will not feel fulfilled.
MYD: You hold an accolade because you were the first female black chartered accountant in Namibia. Why did you choose this path? NU: I was not chasing to be the first of anything. I did what I felt I needed to do. Living in the north, we didn’t know about many careers. I knew you could become a nurse, a teacher or a pastor, and I didn’t want to be any of those. When I went to Sierra Leone, I got a bit more exposure. I actually always thought that I would become highly specialised in science – that fits with my personality. I often say that I’m not a people’s person by nature. I’m task-driven, task-orientated, and I thought I wanted to be by myself, not manage people. But my father was a businessman. Coopers & Lybrand prepared his financial statements, and he wanted me to interpret some of the things in his business for him. At some point, because all his records were not necessarily in order, the Receiver of Revenue gave him this huge tax bill that he had to pay, and I could see that the amount of tax they were charging him was actually much more than
MYD: You said you weren’t looking for the accolade, but when you became the first black woman chartered accountant in Namibia, how did that feel? NU: I did feel that it was an accomplishment for women but also for black people, because before independence black people were not allowed to become chartered accountants – so it was breaking that barrier. When you break a barrier, other people realise that the barrier can be broken. MYD: What was it like entering a very white, maledominated industry? NU: It was challenging, but the good thing was that I did not really concern myself with colour and issues. I just felt like
I was there to become a chartered accountant. Other human beings have achieved it – I just needed to do my work. My major challenge was actually more the language barrier because I didn’t understand a word of Afrikaans, and up to today I still struggle a lot with Afrikaans. But I knew: I am here for a reason. I will not be distracted. Nobody and nothing can prevent me from achieving what I am here to achieve, so I will just make sure that I do what I need to do, what is important to me. Do my job to the best of my ability, prove that I am worthy of being here and make sure that everything works out. I think many times what we think are barriers between people – whether they’re racial barriers, whether they’re tribal barriers and so on – are actually only a result of ignorance because we don’t know people. The moment you understand each other, the moment you understand that we are all human with the same needs, the same desires, visions, purposes and so on, it becomes easy. All the distractions fall out of the way so that you can focus on building the organisation and building the country.
Today I like the person I am and I say, “God, actually you didn’t have to do all that to create this one, but I am sure you probably thought, being stubborn the way I am, maybe the only way to get through to me was through such a deep pain.” Now I look at that experience and say, “Okay, I understand and I accept.” And after that he gave me three wonderful boys. So the bad experiences shape who we are. Even if you have had a hurtful experience, there is a reason for it – learn from it, don’t waste it, make sure that you use it to become the better version of you.
MYD: That’s such a wonderful philosophy for life because we all face challenges and difficulties. But if you choose to become a victim, you’re never going to lift yourself up and achieve anything in life. NU: Yes, definitely. One thing that I have made a decision about in life, and maybe by God’s grace, is not to be a victim. I don’t like victim mentality. I will actually say I hate victim mentality, because I believe that in my life, God is there but I’m responsible for me. Nobody else is responsible for me. My emotional health cannot be in somebody else’s hands. It’s in my hands. John Maxwell said that when we are young, circumstances kind of determine how we end up, but as we get older, it’s about choices. So if you are a victim, it’s because you chose to be one. Two people can be in exactly the same situation and one comes out a victim, the other comes out as victor. What is the difference if the circumstances were the same? It’s about the decision. MYD: Don’t you think, Nangula, that often our challenges are what make us stronger? NU: Yes, I am who I am today because of everything I’ve gone through. I could’ve said, “I lost my secondary school life – I finished at twenty when I was supposed to finish at eighteen,” and I could’ve spent time crying over it, but would it change anything? No. So I look back and say, “What did I learn from that experience?” Even if something has hurt you significantly, you have to sit down and look at it and ask what it is. Something of my story that I do not often share is that I lost my son in a car accident. He was one year seven months old and yes, it was a tough time for me. That was when I found comfort in God. I look at it and say, “God, why did we have to go through this? Why did I lose my son? What must I learn from it?” Today I actually see a lot. I’m not happy that I lost my son, but when I looked at it I think God used that incident to do a lot in my life, and I believe that I am the person I am today to a large extent because of that incident, because it made me a different person. It changed my heart in the way I look at things in life.
“Nobody else is responsible for me. My emotional health cannot be in somebody else’s hands. It’s in my hands.” 28
EVERYBODY’S ABLE DEON NAMISEB Deon Namiseb is exceptionally able. He was captain of Namibia’s Special Olympics soccer team when it won the Disabled Sports Team of the Year Award, and he has received the Namibian Disabled Sportsperson of the Year Award.
s an International Global Messenger, Deon was selected to represent millions of athletes with intellectual disabilities, raising awareness around the globe about the power of sports. Closer to home, Deon has helped his mother to establish and run the Dolam Children’s Home in Katutura. He continues to challenge perceptions while advocating for equality for disabled individuals.
I couldn’t believe it, I still can’t, but I was appointed man of the match, and that trophy is standing in my mom’s sitting room, always reminding me of 2007. MYD: I believe that you’ve met Barack Obama and Bill Clinton and a number of incredible people as a result of the Special Olympics. DN: Yes, in 2010 I was nominated to be a Global Ambassador and I had to go to the White House in the United States. The Special Olympics has really helped me to get involved in sports and to get my message out.
MYD: It’s quite a journey that has brought you to being an ambassador for Namibia today. Tell us about your childhood. DN: I was born in 1978 in Namibia, in Katutura. I was a normal baby boy, but I got sick. At the hospital, the doctors gave me oxygen, which made my brain swell, and then my one side became paralysed. I was also blind. The doctors left me for dead; they said they couldn’t do anything for me. They told my parents that I wouldn’t live and that they should prepare for a memorial. But the God we serve is wonderful. My mom’s sister was a cleaner at the hospital. She rescued me and cared for me as her own son, so I was raised by two parents: my mom and my aunt. My dad was not there. He was nowhere to be found. With time I got my sight back, but my life had changed. When I turned seven years old, my mom said, “Deon, it is time. You should pull up your socks and cope on your own. I won’t be there every day to guide you or to help you with everything.” It was a difficult time. I have two sisters and they were very little girls then. I was only seven years old, but I now had to take care of them. I started to clean the house, cook for the children, get them ready for school and get myself ready for school. Today I can tell people: Whatever you can do, I can do.
MYD: You started a new initiative, Football for Hope. DN: Yes, Football for Hope is an organisation where I coach young athletes. We also have computer classes, lifeskills classes and soccer classes. After school the athletes are normally just on the streets, so we thought we’d take them off the streets and let them do their homework there. MYD: Deon, do you believe that if you expect greatness from yourself, you will get greatness? DN: I have received so much – the greatness of being a person, the greatness of being loved by a wonderful mom. I now want to be the person who people with intellectual disabilities bring their problems to, to help solve them. MYD: Deon, what would your message be for anybody struggling to find inspiration? DN: I would say that God made you for a reason. You have something unique in yourself that no one else has, so bring that unique thing out. I know there is a shining star in everyone’s heart. Let the wall not stand in front of you. Break down that wall, be the person you want to be and tell the world, “This is my time.”
MYD: How did you get into the Special Olympics? DN: I went to Dagbreek School. That school really opened my eyes as to where I should go. I am a good soccer player, and in 2007 I was given a chance to participate in the World Games in China, Beijing. It was my first trip out of the country and I was so happy and also a bit scared. We had to play against all the African and European countries. We made it to the final but lost against Iraq.
NOW PRINTED IN NAMIBIA PROSTHETICS Born out of necessity when South African Richard van As severed all the fingers on his right hand in a woodworking accident, the revolutionary Robohand is an award-winning invention that was nominated for the Rockefeller Innovators Award in 2013.
he most remarkable part of this story is not simply that the Robohand allows people to regain their mobility, but that the inventor has made it available for anyone in the world to download off the Internet for free. So far, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been downloaded two million times. According to its description, Robohand provides â&#x20AC;&#x153;opensource, customised, anatomically driven mechanical devices to assist upper-limb different individualsâ&#x20AC;?. But it goes even further than that: online designs and tutorials also show viewers how to build their own robotic hands. Manufactured using innovative 3D printing, these devices offer a more affordable alternative to standard prosthetics. In partnership with GadgetBoy 3D Solutions, the Robohand is now being manufactured using 3D printing technology in Swakopmund, Namibia. Should you or someone you love be in need of prosthetics, Robohand presents an opportunity to regain functionality and mobility without the excessive costs usually associated with prosthetics. Key to the process is that you are involved in the design and manufacture of your own prosthetic device, which according to Richard is an important part of the healing process after losing a limb. As for Richard, he has transformed his own loss into opportunities for millions.
CHANGE FOR THE BETTER
HANGE is an organisation changing the lives of people desperate to start over and lead a good life, but who are weighed down by the stigma of being unqualified or having been imprisoned. For the lucky few who cross paths with Jean Tendai Gwenere, a future is made possible through this remarkable woman’s compassion and commitment.
Jean is a fashion design tutor at CHANGE, an independent, nongovernmental organisation actively involved in uplifting Namibian society by reintegrating ex-offenders into society, while contributing to the country’s economic and social development. Not only does CHANGE provide education, skills training and work programmes that can equip exoffenders and others with the tools they need to succeed, but they also address one of the biggest challenges of rehabilitation: removing the stigma that ex-offenders still face in the employment market. With CHANGE as one of their many corporate social responsibility projects, the FNB Namibia Foundation Trust has invested over N$300 000 in the organisation, with remarkable results. Of the 44 students who underwent training at CHANGE,
28 of them are now employed, including 13 who are self-employed. Amongst its various programmes, CHANGE provides a fashion design and tailoring programme, together with business entrepreneurial training, for ex-offenders and other marginalised individuals who want to get their lives back on track. With her passion for fashion and CHANGE, Jean is the muse of hope behind many changed lives: “I also ask myself at times, ‘How did I end up in CHANGE?’ I started when I was 21 and I’ve been here for 16 years, working with people, hearing their stories and seeing what they are doing. I get their comments and they send me pictures of what they are doing. ‘Oh, miss, you changed my life, this is what I’m doing ...’ and ‘I can’t believe I bought a car, miss.’ I’ve got so many students who have shown me their cars that they have bought with money that they earned by doing what I taught them. “The hardest part is when my students drop out. We are only based in Windhoek and some people don’t have accommodation in Windhoek. Family members can only accommodate them for so long and life in Windhoek is not easy. They will say, ‘Miss, I have to go back to the north, because my uncle said he can’t
take care of me any more,’ or people will judge and say, ‘No, you can’t stay with this person because they were in prison,’ so they have to go back. I wish I had a big place where I could accommodate them so that they could finish. “But when they graduate and they go out there and show what they have, that makes me happy. “Somebody will tell you, ‘I was in prison for 15 years and I didn’t know what to do, where to start, where to go.’ They have looked for employment in vain and at the end of the day they got into this programme, family have bought machines for them and they’re doing things for themselves, they are earning a living, their life has been changed. At the end of the day, it’s the satisfaction of knowing that I am changing somebody else’s life.”
FNB Namibia www.fnbnamibia.com.na
AN ALTERNATIVE TO VIOLENCE PEDRO KAPIRIKA Pedro Kapirika knows first hand the damage that violence causes. As a child, he witnessed it in his home, and he lost his own mother in an incident of gender-based violence.
e has walked a long path to find his inner peace, and today Pedro is a conflict manager at the Alternative to Violence Project (AVP), an NGO that educates Namibians in conflict resolution.
I could have been a monster. I could not control myself. I could have destroyed a lot of lives. MYD: Do you agree with the statement that we only do damage because we are damaged? PK: Yes, you get into that cycle. I used to see my stepfather abuse my mom and I would think that’s how a man behaves. My stepfather would call me names, and I would take that to school and call the students names. It’s like a virus. But if there is professional help and the right networks, there is a possibility that a person can break the cycle.
MYD: Share with us, Pedro, your story of how you became a conflict manager. PK: My mom died through violence. My stepfather was aggressive, and I took out the anger and frustration I was feeling at school. I didn’t know where I could express these feelings. The only way for me was to take the abuse that I was getting at home from my stepfather, and inflict it on other learners. I ended up being referred to counselling, but it didn’t help – I was still aggressive. I didn’t understand what was actually bothering me. I had so much anger towards everybody – myself, my mom, my stepfather. My therapist suggested I get involved in art therapy or training, and that was when I was invited to AVP, the Alternative to Violence Project. The first time when I walked in, I said, “Nope, I’m not going to express myself.” So they gave me a type of game called Broken Squares. The whole purpose of the game is cooperation. It was the first time I realised that I needed to let go of certain pieces in my life. There was nothing I could do – I could not have saved my mom from domestic violence. I needed to let it go. I was glad these people came into my life. My principal, my life skills teacher, they helped me. It was now up to me to say, “Let go of the abuse. Get help. Pedro, let go of the anger.” Slowly but surely, I let it go.
MYD: Often, though, we wait until we are in conflict before we seek help, but there are ways that we can address our anger before it gets to that stage, correct? PK: That’s correct. Sometimes people are afraid of approaching that feeling of anger. They’d rather think it will blow over, but it won’t blow away because you have not expressed it. MYD: Do we always have to express our anger? PK: It is necessary because at the end of the day you might drown in your own anger, and you might end up hurting yourself or the next person. The good thing is that when you bring out the anger and when you express it in a healthy way, it can be resolved. MYD: What about people who say, “I am never angry”? PK: I’ve come across that a lot. You see people who don’t know how to express their anger. It piles up and they get nervous. It is dangerous because at the end of the day, the more anxious they become, the more dangerous they become to themselves and also to the next person. You find people are silent about their anger. You’ll never know if something is bothering them, and that can be dangerous. With loud people, and I am a very loud person, you know where you stand. You can see when they are angry and when you should stay away.
MYD: Pedro, it must have been absolutely horrific for you to lose your mom to gender-based violence while you were there to experience and witness it yourself. If you had not gotten help and found an alternative to violence, where would you be today? PK: I could have been on the streets. I could have killed someone because I know that with my anger at school, even other students were afraid. I was even afraid of myself.
MYD: What is your advice on learning how to deal with and express your anger in a healthy way? PK: My advice is to seek help, and be willing to be helped. Go to Lifeline or call us at AVP. You don’t need to be afraid. I was afraid, but you don’t need to be afraid. One thing I always carry with me is the ‘I’ message. It’s a tool that I have taught my two siblings for when we feel angry, and it has really helped our relationship because I do not want them to go through what I went through, and I would not want them to let their kids go through what we went through. The ‘I’ message is a formula of expressing yourself without blaming the next person. You start off with how you are feeling within yourself and then you explain how you feel. Let’s say, for example, I use your cellphone. You would say, “Why did you take my cellphone?” And I would respond to you, “Why did you leave it there?” That’s now a conflict because it’s ‘you’ and ‘you’ and ‘you’ and ‘you’. Rather explain how you felt when I took your cell phone: “I feel angry because you need to ask before you use my cellphone,” or, “I feel bad if you use my phone without asking me.” This way, the person doesn’t feel like they are being attacked and there is less conflict. But you cannot use the ‘I’ message in a conflict moment. You have to wait until the conflict has calmed down, the environment is okay, you have cooled down, the next person has cooled down.
The problem is that if we do not state our feelings about what is making us angry, the next person will never understand and they will not change their actions. MYD: That is true, and again we’re reminded of how much power we have in our own lives. We just have to be aware of what we need to do. PK: Yes, we do have a transforming power, and if you care for yourself, you will care for the next person. You should always expect the best from others and expect the best within yourself. You should always learn how to ask for a nonviolent path. That’s how it is. We cannot go back and change the past. I wished every day to go back and change the past because there was a moment when I spoke to my mom on her deathbed and I said, “Mom, can we move out tomorrow?” But that tomorrow never came. I have learnt from that. The past is the past; let us heal and let us move on, because if we continue to carry the past like a handbag or suitcase, we are not going to be well in the present or the future. It’s good to see what are you going to take from the past that will make you a stronger person or a more healthy person. You pick out the few items to take from the past, but the ones that are bad for you, you just leave those behind. The past has shaped me into the strong person that I am now. I proud of who I am now.
“You should always expect the best from others and expect the best within yourself.” 36
HEALED TO HEAL BRANDY SHOOMBE Brandy Shoombe’s journey has been a circuitous one. Moving from peace to pain to peace again has helped her become a passionate community activist who now teaches peace, forgiveness and anger management to the youth in the Omusati Region in the north of Namibia.
orn in exile, Brandy came to Namibia in 1990 and discovered that she would have to learn to let go of anger to regain her sense of peace.
The second shock was that there was no place for us to express ourselves. Kids from exile were always seen as too energetic, too outspoken or too much. For me that was a major shock and also losing everybody that I knew – all my friends, all my parents that I’d had. Getting used to being with one person only and being overly judged, that was very hard for me to overcome. So I grew up rebelling against the system most of the time.
MYD: Tell us about yourself, Brandy. BS: I am an Ovambo girl, born in exile in Lubango, Angola. That was like my donation – being born in exile. The work that I do in the north was instilled in me from being raised in the camps.
MYD: Which you can understand considering that the system you knew was an embracing, one-family community, and now you’d come to a different world where you had neighbours, and walls between you and your neighbours. BS: Yes, yes, and you don’t even play with your neighbours. You don’t even go across the street. That was shocking. That we had to stay home all day – we had never stayed home all day. We were not forced to wear shoes all day. None of that was part of our life so … I became a rebel. It was the only way to protect the little that I had inside. There was not even any rehabilitation to help you get used to this new lifestyle, to understand it. I’m not the only one. I speak for every exiled child out there – I bet we were all at the principal’s office every other week because we were beating up some kid or telling the teacher off. Drastic change is not easy to cope with.
MYD: What was it like growing up in exile? BS: Growing up in exile was bliss – and they do say sometimes ignorance is bliss. As a young child in exile, you were taught this fairy tale of what Namibia is – a world of milk and honey, diamonds, freedom and all of that. Being in exile, we were innocent and we knew that we were constantly protected. We had officers and soldiers all around, we also did not know separation in families, because we lived as a community. When one did not have, we always shared. Wearing different shoes or different coloured socks was just a norm for us. But we were also always ready for something drastic to happen, as we were constantly being told somebody was about to attack us. If an aeroplane passed, you knew to hide – so already at age five you were trained to survive on your own. Also, not knowing who your parents were was a part of us. I think even if your mother was there, in the camp, every mother in the camp was your mother, every father in the camp was your father, every brother or sister was your family. So we had a really different lifestyle compared to the way people were living here.
MYD: How did you get to a place of internal peace, where you didn’t need to rebel against the system? BS: I had to learn to accept that my mother is my mother. I then had to accept that I must forgive them for taking away my life and it not working out. I fell pregnant when I was a teenager, at seventeen; I had my baby at eighteen. Learning to be a mother was the beginning of healing for me. I didn’t want my child growing up the same way I had grown up. I wanted my child to have a relationship with me. Wanting that gave me a desire to have a relationship with my mother. As an adult, I wanted to help my mother heal. I wanted her to somehow open up about the little facts that we could share girl to girl, woman to woman, as I’ve grown into a woman. She couldn’t, and this made me realise that I have to do it by myself. Helping others started as a way for me to heal.
MYD: What was it like when you came back in 1990, after living that kind of life? BS: We were so excited to come home but upon landing, the shock came. Now you have family and your previous family is not your family any more. For the first time I was learning things – like, I have neighbours, I am Ovambo and there are different dialects. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that there were Hereros and Damaras. That was the numberone shock.
They say that all people who do selfless work have wounds inside themselves, and doing community service and reaching out to others actually brings us healing. MYD: Tell us about the community work you do today. BS: My community work is called the Oshana Yoga Project. This is a project that I started in Oshakati in the north. I got the idea when I received a scholarship to do teachers’ yoga training in Nairobi, Kenya, where yoga is practised even in the deepest, most remote Masai villages. My big healing came during this training – I shed a lot of tears, I threw up a lot, a lot of things came to light. Why was I labouring, why was I fighting? Things were happening in my own family, and healing our own families is the hardest. So I took on the challenge, and went home to do outreach. I went out to a small township to teach yoga. In just three weeks these little souls grew on me. The joy in their eyes, learning to express themselves with yoga – it was beautiful. I would see angry kids and then after a while I could see the kids were healing. It was amazing. In the end I was reaching out to kids from deaf schools and to the blind. In the middle of nowhere, with no mats whatsoever but we just go out and do it, and it’s fun. I reach out to 250 kids a week. MYD: Incredible, and how does yoga help with anger? BS: It helps very much because with yoga we are learning to connect to the body, the mind and the spirit. For instance, in the warrior pose, when they hear the word ‘warrior’, they become the warrior of their souls. For the time that they endure the pose, they get to let go of whatever they’ve been holding on to. It’s like you have nowhere to go but inside yourself. Yoga always comes with self-enquiry. How much can I give of myself? Could I ever do that pose? You overcome your fears. In yoga class, there are always tears because they have achieved something they thought they would never achieve. Those small changes play a role in the bigger part of their lives. MYD: That is a really beautiful story. What advice would you have for others on how they can find their own peace? BS: I would say they must start letting go of fear. We close up a lot; we are afraid of judgment. Start sharing whatever you have. You might feel like you don’t have anything to share, but you might just have a story that inspires another. Namibians need to start finding their inner child, and I feel a lot of us don’t have that because we never grew up as children. We had to let go of the child mind very soon in our lives, which messes us up. But it is healing to find authenticity and integrity in your expression and to not be afraid of being judged for your weakness. Find strength in your weakness. The strength is only found when you overcome or face your own fears. When you relax in your vulnerability, you actually find power on the other side.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;Find strength in your weakness. The strength is only found when you overcome or face your own fears. When you relax in your vulnerability, you actually find power on the other side.â&#x20AC;? 41
A POWERFUL SENSE FOR FLOWERS SANDRA VAN ZYL At the age of sixteen, Sandra van Zyl moved from her hometown Otjiwarongo to South Africa to attend a school for the visually impaired. She eventually moved back to Namibia to open what she calls “a small farm stall with lots of flowers,” the Kaapse Tafel flower shop.
he business moves over a ton of proteas a month in Namibia, and judging by the beautiful arrangements of flowers she puts together, you would never imagine that Sandra has less than ten per cent sight.
Sandra believes that there are no limits to what she or her business can achieve. “As far as I’m concerned, being visually impaired and classed as disabled, what you achieve in life is what you expect from yourself, so have high expectations of yourself.”
Sandra’s team consists of Martha Shaanika, a self-taught florist; Victor Josef, who is hearing impaired and has possibly the biggest and most contagious smile in all of Namibia; and Jolene de Haan, whose endearing charm wraps up this business in a perfect bouquet. Meeting with the knowledgeable Sandra leaves you with a new perspective and understanding of flowers. “Each flower has symbolic significance, dating from the Victorian era when flowers were given as a means of communication. The selected flower’s meaning showed what the sender wanted to communicate,” she explains. “Proteas symbolise new beginnings, courage and diversity – that’s why I love them. You get 1 400 different varieties of proteas and fynbos. They use very little water, and being so hardy they do well in our climate. Plus they don’t die, they dry – so you can dry them and make lovely things with the dried flowers.” Busy arranging a spectacular bouquet, she explains: “I work from knowing why the person is sending the bunch. This particular one is for a gentleman who has been married for four years today, so we selected the protea snow princess, blushing brides and roses.” Sandra’s passion is evident, as is her humility. “I have a wonderful team, and as a florist you build up relationships with people, you hear their stories, you’re there through their weddings and deaths, and you work with a lot of emotions. It’s a privilege.”
FROM TRIPLE DIGITS TO TWO OCEANS HERMIEN ELAGO
ermien Elago found the courage to face her 100-kilogram self and started a weight-loss and fitness journey that became an unexpected mental catharsis.
down. The first time I went, I couldn’t even make it halfway up – I couldn’t breathe. It was quite tragic but eventually I was able to finish it. Then, after I had lost quite a bit of weight, I decided to challenge myself. So I started running. The first time I ran, I think it was 300 metres and I couldn’t run any more – and I’d thought I was really fit because by then I was going to gym doing weight training and walking. But running is a different animal. I think it is the real test of mental toughness. Nothing in you wants to do it. It’s really hard and you’re fighting gravity, and you’re fighting your mind and your body. I progressed from running 300 metres to one kilometre, and I was really excited about my one kilometre. So I decided to set a goal to work towards, and Two Oceans immediately came to mind because, firstly, it is the world’s most beautiful marathon and, secondly, I think it’s quite a tough halfmarathon to be able to do. So I started training last year and I ran the Two Oceans this year.
MYD: What exactly triggered you to start a journey from couch potato to running a half marathon? HE: On 1 September 2013, I stepped onto the scale, and saw a number I never expected to see. It was triple digits – I weighed 100 kilos and I was shocked. In hindsight, I realise that I shouldn’t have been shocked because my lifestyle was inevitably leading there. I had completely let myself go. At that point I had difficulty just tying my shoes and breathing. I was heartbroken for myself that I didn’t care enough to take care of myself. I decided then to take control by making very small changes to get my life back. MYD: Tell us about the journey. HE: I wasn’t looking for quick fixes. I’m a recovering food addict and an emotional eater, compensating for my insecurities, so I decided to keep it simple so that I’d be able to sustain it over a long period of time. I went to boarding school in Cape Town at the age of five. I was really young, so I think I battled with abandonment issues, even though I realised now I wasn’t abandoned – my parents just wanted the best for me. I turned to food because food gives you instant gratification.
MYD: What was it like to finish the Two Oceans half marathon and achieve your goal? HE: I think a part of me felt that I might not even finish, but I crossed the line eight minutes before the cut-off and it was really, really emotional. The entire race is an emotional experience from start to finish because you’ve got all these supporters, strangers calling your name, and you really feel at one with every single other runner who is there because the training can be quite brutal. Crossing that line was probably one of the most beautiful moments I’ve experienced in my life.
MYD: I think that is a problem many people have. We seek food to feel better about ourselves but we feel worse about ourselves in the end. HE: Ironically, the things that actually do make me feel better about myself are working out and exercising, taking care of my mental health and eating foods that are good for me. But all of that is delayed gratification. Eating a salad right now doesn’t feel that great, while eating a burger almost feels like a hug immediately – even though the next day I feel bloated and upset.
MYD: That’s a beautiful metaphor for life, isn’t it – we have to put in the hard work to get to the results we want in life, right? HE: Yes, and the great thing about running is that you can’t cheat or fake it. You can’t wake up one day and say, “I’m going to run a half marathon.” You have to put in the miles, you have to put in the training, and even though it’s really hard, when you actually get to race day, that is what carries you. You draw from your training, from the first one kilometre that you ran and got excited about. You draw from that and, I think, such is life.
MYD: So what exactly did you do? HE: I did two things: I cut out sugar, and I started walking for forty-five minutes a day. I documented it on Facebook and called it the Mountain Diaries. There is a mountain just behind State House in Auasblick that I would walk up and
MYD: What would your advice be to somebody who has been through a difficult time?
HE: Deciding to turn your life around is hard, but there is a saying that goes, “Choose your hard.” Staying there in the discomfort, having no confidence whatsoever and battling unstable emotions – that was hard. The running and getting up at four o’clock in the morning to make it to my classes and eating healthy – that’s hard too. I just chose my hard, and the result of the hard that I chose far outweighs that of other hard. I am my own hero. That’s probably the best thing that I got from it. You are so much stronger than you think you are. I don’t think people realise just how strong the human spirit is.
“You are so much stronger than you think you are. I don’t think people realise just how strong the human spirit is.”
CHANNELLING FOR GOOD BRUCE SALT Bruce Salt is the first Namibian man ever to swim across the English Channel. Considered to be the ultimate endurance-swimming challenge because of the long distance and extreme conditions, crossing the Channel takes approximately fourteen hours as swimmers navigate one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.
he swim involves continuous swimming through waves of up to two metres, and swimmers must dodge shipping vessels, jellyfish and litter – all in freezing-cold ocean waters.
“It’s been a long year and the focus has totally been on swimming. I’ve done 850 kilometres this year, with the biggest week covering 37.5 kilometres. I’m nervous, but the training is done, so now it’s all down to the weather,” he said. “You have a lot of time to think while you’re out there. You swim for half an hour and then you are allowed to tread water and have something to eat and drink, and then you continue. The rules are that you are only allowed to wear a Speedo, goggles and a cap, along with what they call ‘Channel grease’, which is like Vaseline. That helps with friction and with some insulation in the seawater, which is about seventeen degrees Celsius.
What in the world would move a person to do such a thing? In 2011, Bruce’s older brother, Neil, succumbed to lymphoma. “Neil had to go to South Africa a lot, for consultations, for chemotherapy, and we were able to be there to support him. But we saw that there were a lot of people who didn’t have any support. With his passing, Neil left a substantial amount of money to start a fund to support the families of people with cancer, to help make sure that there can be someone with you when you are going through this traumatic experience. We, being Hochland 154 Round Table, felt compelled to grow this fund to make sure that it can continue.”
“You start with your feet out of the water on the one side of the Channel, and only once your feet are out of the water on the other side do they stop the clock. For everything in between, you’re on your own. “What I am doing is a bit extreme; there is no balance in it, and I am a person who ideally prefers balance. Without balance, you are isolated.”
Out of this pain, Bruce’s idea to swim the English Channel was born. He secured sponsorships for his swim, with proceeds going to the Cancer Care Namibia Fund. Working closely with the Fund, the new Namibia Oncology Centre in Windhoek refers cases of families who need assitance after a family member has been diagnosed with cancer.
Outside of the water, Bruce went through physiotherapy and biokinetics to strengthen himself, adding that, “For someone who hasn’t really got a body for swimming, this really shows that anything is possible. You just need focus and to show up. I want this swim to demonstrate that everything is possible.”
“My brother was someone who liked to help people, more so ‘undercover’ – he didn’t usually tell people. But once you have someone you know or love affected by cancer, you realise how many people are affected by cancer. So far, we have assisted twenty Namibian families with this fund.”
The open-water swim Bruce was about to embark on is one in which he had to swim completely alone – a beautiful metaphor for what the patients go through without the support of their families during their difficult times.
In 2016, 99FM MYD spoke to Bruce days before he left to cross the Channel, after he had been training almost every day for a year.
On 3 October 2016, Bruce successfully completed his swim at a time of thirteen hours and forty-six minutes.
LIRA MEANS LOVE LIRA Lira, whose name means ‘love’ in Sesotho, was born in South Africa, and her early life was defined by the harsh realities of growing up during apartheid.
oday she is a multiplatinum-selling artist and eleven times South African Music Award-winning Afro-soul vocalist. Her lyrics are inspiring, telling stories of optimism and of mastering your destiny. Lira visited Namibia as a guest of 99FM to host a master class for local artists in Windhoek.
into it I felt desperately unfulfilled and I didn’t know why. I remember thinking to myself: This is weird – I’ve got the job, the status, the money, but I’m unhappy. So if this isn’t it, then what is happiness? I had to define it for myself, and my only happiness at that time was being on stage and singing so, it seemed a logical direction. The first thing I did was plan how I would achieve this happiness pursuing music. I drew up a five-year plan and, as they say, the rest is history.
MYD: Lira, let’s start at the beginning. How did you become a songwriter? L: I observed my family and how they responded to music. It seemed to unite us. At the time, I did not even speak or understand the English language, but it seemed to me that the words of the music were articulating what my family was feeling. I remember at age seven thinking to myself if there ever was a reason to write music, that’s the effect I would want it to have. It wasn’t until I was sixteen that I actually tried to write my own song, and it was a love song. We entered a talent show and went on to win best composition, best performance and best vocalist. So that was the first time I was affirmed that maybe I could actually do this.
MYD: We hear so often on the 99FM MYD Show that you need to be strategic with your life. L: I think it is essential. I call it having a vision: what are you up to, where are you going, what are you doing? People go, “I want to sing.” Okay, stand there and sing! But vision is about the detail. How do you want to be perceived, how do you want to live, what kind of impact do you want to have? For me, I thought five years was a reasonable time to do something that I could be proud of in this industry. I quit my job; I actually cashed in my pension fund and I had some savings, so I had enough money to survive for a year. I gave myself a buffer and I felt a year was a reasonable time. A plan gives you a sense of direction, something to work towards. Opportunities will come up, but you will know when something is good for you based on its alignment to your vision. It becomes your navigation system, and so a plan is essential. It’s your soul saying, “Yes, this is good for us – you are on the right track.” When it feels bad and it feels like a struggle, that’s your soul telling you that you veered off the path. We’ve never been taught how to use our navigation system. It took me years to even uncover that and to realise it’s so simple. I realise that desire, that wanting to feel good, was essentially what made me quit my job in the first place, because my spirit was saying, “This is not us. This is not what we are supposed to do with our life.”
MYD: From there you didn’t immediately go on to become a songwriter. L: No, at the time it was a hobby because nothing in my environment had given me the perception that I could do this for a living. When we entered the talent show it was myself, my best friend and two other guys, who were also best friends. That gave us the opportunity to perform in various clubs, for people of all races, of all ages and I just remember falling in love with the idea that we had created these songs out of thin air essentially, and there we were singing them and connecting with absolute strangers. Through music, colour barriers dissolved, age barriers dissolved, it was just magical for me, and so I think it was the first time I considered wanting to do this for a living. Real life beckoned so I studied Accounting because it was my favourite subject. I kept singing, and I was just falling deeper and deeper in love with it, but I still considered it a hobby. When I finished school and entered the job market, that completely cut me off from my creative side. I was working Monday to Saturday, and so I sort of left that dream behind. It was lovely to be making money, to be educated, to be wearing the power suit. It was exciting, but two years
MYD: Beautiful that you followed this knowing, because it is a worthwhile pursuit, finding your happiness. L: We are meant to have happiness. It’s as natural as breathing, as natural as the sun coming up every morning. It’s just how life is supposed to be, and we’ve lost the plot as humanity, in a sense.
But it’s wonderful to have programmes like this, where we can openly talk about it. So it’s not just airy fairy, it’s not just the feeling. It’s actually practical – it brings results, lifestyle changes, great fulfilment, health, relationships, opportunities, travelling. You name it, it’s all there.
that shoot. The pace is insane and things go wrong. I get frustrated, I get angry, but I find that if I filled myself up in the morning, things don’t affect me as adversely and I feel I’m more balanced and calm to take on the stress and strain of the day. One of my favourite mantras is, “Things always work out.” It could be serious chaos and I just sit there, look around and remind myself, “Things always work out. After this storm, it’s going to calm down and when you come out on the other side, it’s going to be okay.”
MYD: Do you have any tips on how to know that you’re in the right space? L: It’s actually simpler than we think. The first thing I would recommend is to write down what you love, what you like or what makes you happy. Write it all down and then endeavour to make time for those things on a daily basis. I often say that we spend time on things that we don’t really want to do. Start recognising where you dishonour yourself by wanting to please others. Often we delegate our time to everyone else. You are a mother, you are a wife, an employee, something at church, but you don’t make time for yourself. Recognise that you have time but you just don’t dedicate it to yourself – so in your schedule you need to schedule ‘Self’. In that list include the things that make you feel good. Now do this on a daily basis. It’s a good practice – it makes you sensitive to yourself again. It connects you with yourself, your god, your soul, your sense of joy. You become fulfilled again, just by making that little effort. This is the kind of stuff that’ll sustain you through difficulty. When it becomes a habit, you will be amazed at how many opportunities will start opening up. You’ll start meeting the right people, you’ll attract the right ‘tribe’, as it were – people who are likeminded. Things seem to line up to assist you and that’s natural. MYD: Do you believe that everybody has a creative side that needs to be expressed? L: Absolutely – I think it’s part of human nature to be creative. Being creative doesn’t mean that it’s just art. We can be analytical but we always have a side to us that needs to create, that needs to express ourselves, and that makes for a healthy human being. You will be able to identify these things when you write down that list of things that make you happy, things that you love. You can be a lawyer, a teacher and whatever else that is deemed a real career, but somewhere in there is something you’d love to do just for the sake of it. You need to nurture that because that will balance you out so beautifully. MYD: What’s your take on our need to create balance in our lives? L: It’s essential. It’s taken me most of my career to achieve balance, but it’s so important. I think it’s also about understanding that life is cyclical. It goes up, it goes down, it goes over there, it goes over here, and that’s just the flow of it. How I cope with it now is to include as much ‘life’ as I can in every day. What I mean by that is: I know I’m going to face challenges every day, but if I spent time nurturing myself, it’ll be easier. I like to wake up, listen to the birds, the most random, simplest things, being ‘with joy’, spending time with my husband, and we make breakfast, and we eat, and I will listen to audio books. It’s slow but, as soon as the day starts, I am running, driving all over the place, doing this interview,
MYD: Lira, who inspires you? L: My late great-grandmother is my biggest inspiration. She had standard 2 education. She wrote like a toddler but she was a businesswoman, a street vendor, and she built the biggest house in our neighbourhood. As you walked down our street, you’d see this monstrosity on the corner. She was brilliant with her money and she just loved education. She collected people. There were thirteen people in the house and I discovered when I was older that not even half of them were our family, but she wanted to give people an opportunity. I am so much like her – I even physically look like her. She made me realise that where you come from does not define where you end up, and life is really what you make it. You are not defined by your past. She did her best with what she was given and she didn’t make excuses. I love that. Her lessons are very deep in me so, she’s really inspired me to be all I can be. She passed away when I was sixteen, but I think she would be super, super proud if she was here. MYD: I am very sure she would be. I have no doubt.
“She made me realise that where you come from does not define where you end up, and life is really what you make it. You are not defined by your past.” 52
A WINDOW OF OPPORTUNITY
ponsoring free educational bouquets with access to more than nine educational programmes to 300 schools in Namibia, MultiChoice has made an important impact over the years, helping the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture to bridge the digital gap between schools in rural and urban areas.
“The generation that we serve lives in a digital age. Through the MultiChoice Resource Centres, children and teachers in some of the most remote areas of the country can enrich their minds and broaden their horizons by watching National Geographic Wild, Animal Planet, BBC, BBC World and BBC Knowledge,” says Sanet Steenkamp, Permanent Secretary for Namibia’s Minister of Education, Arts & Culture. Sanet herself started her career as a teacher in the north of Namibia before being appointed permanent secretary. “There’s no doubt that in our efforts to develop the nation, education is the backbone,” she continues. “I am
a firm believer that education can turn things around. Education can break the cycle of poverty. It’s not just about having a strong core curriculum. It’s not just about having qualified teachers. Education is also a calling and a passion. We need children that will be able to be part of the workforce in Namibia – people who can work and think analytically, think critically and act with decisiveness. That is what education can bring to the table and that’s why it’s so important.” Ewan Orlam matriculated from Mariental as one of the top performers in the region. The MultiChoice Resource Centre played a big role in both his personal and academic development: “Our schools can only do so much, but the educational bouquet broadened our mindset. We received access to more advanced teachings from across Africa and the world. At one point, half of my subjects were taught by the same teacher, so just getting a different perspective on things really helped me a lot. Also because
through the Resource Centre we are not just passively watching: the teachers encouraged us to write, practice and discuss afterwards and to engage with others.” Harnessing the opportunity to speak to thousands of people both in their classrooms and their living rooms, MultiChoice Namibia continues to plough back to the communities that have supported them for decades. The new year will see exciting new initiatives, opening other windows of life-enriching opportunities for Namibians.
MultiChoice Namibia Tel: 061 270 5111 www.mcn.com.na
BLOOD, SWEAT & SUCCESS THE LEGEND OF THE SLOWTOWN COFFEE BRAND A Namibian business born out of passion, Slowtown Coffee Roasters seems to be unstoppable in their success. From humble beginnings in Swakopmund, Slowtown has become a proudly Namibian household name and go-to coffee for local coffee lovers.
ennis de Wet, the man who started it all, explains: “Slowtown is a product of discontentment. I studied financial analysis. When I started working in the very corporate world, I realised that I didn’t like the routine of it. I also realised that there are people who actually love their jobs; people who wake up excited in the morning. That wasn’t me. It was the opposite of how I felt, doing finance.
jumping in and having everything, but having to do it organically. “People see the shops now and think, ‘What a good idea!’ Or they think that it was easy. No one sees the blood, sweat and tears. It was hard work.” The growth curve for the company’s development didn’t stop there. “I realised quickly that I wasn’t building a business, I was building a brand. Everything I do needs to be for the good of the brand. The business will grow by itself if the brand is protected,” notes Dennis.
“I asked myself, what do I love and what am I passionate about? I drew up a list of all the things I love – this included surfing, wine and coffee. In each one of these things, there are business opportunities. Even if you don’t want to start a business, you can work in the industry of your passion.
He adds that another important aspect of growing a successful brand is your support structure. “There will be times where you start to doubt yourself, or when you think you haven’t done the right thing, or your expectations aren’t met in terms of how quickly it will grow. You can have perfect spreadsheets, your budgets can look great, but things just don’t work out that way. There were many times I thought it wasn’t working. If it weren’t for my wife’s encouragement in those times, I would have given up. I might not have even started, in fact. Her encouragement was the key.”
“Then I did a process of elimination. After I’d done my research, I realised there was an opportunity for local coffee roasting here in Namibia. People love coffee, so if you can offer them something even better than what they are used to, there could be a market there. “Coffee is not just a drink; there is a whole vibe about coffee. It’s about connecting, relating and sharing. The name Slowtown came about because it is about slowing down and enjoying the process again. Coffee, as a way to connect, is about getting people relating and hopefully off their phones.”
Dennis advises that when exploring opportunties, “You first need to know who you are. Do you like risk? If you don’t, then you’re not an entrepreneur. That’s okay. You can still live out your passion working in a company.”
Today, Slowtown Coffee Roasters has five shops in Namibia. “The growth has been organic. In the early days, I did all the roasting and packing myself. I would run the shop and then roast in the evening from 5pm until 11pm, and the next morning start it all again.
It all comes down to your point of view: “A positive outlook will also have an effect on your success. With a negative outlook, you will never make it out of where you are.” When asked where to from here, Dennis says, “This year I am fine tuning everything that we’ve got. And in the future I’d like to look at exporting.”
“I did everything from mopping floors to packing the coffee. I didn’t have a big budget, and in the beginning everything in the shop was handmade or rebuilt by hand from items I bought on auction. It was a challenge, but fun, and I believe that it is important for your character growth. Not just
And why not? The whole world could do with slowing down to smell the coffee, and brands don’t have borders.
FASHIONABLY NAMIBIAN INGO SHANYENGE Ingo Shanyenge’s star was rising in the UK, where he studied fashion, when he decided to bring his passion back to his native Namibia to help build the fashion industry here.
ngo’s designs – high fashion that celebrates African style with tailored finishes – were featured at Namibian Fashion Week and quickly became sought after by high-profile personalities. Ingo shares his knowledge of fashion by serving the board of the Fashion Council of Namibia.
inspires me. We need to install confidence in the youth to take their ideas and make them into careers that make life easier for people. MYD: How do you think we can instill that confidence? IS: We have to be examples, come out as heroes. If you have an uncle, a family member who’s done great stuff, tell his story. We have a lot of good stories to tell.
MYD: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Ingo, and how it is that you got into fashion? IS: I’ve always been artistic, from a young age. In high school, I designed our final matric jacket, and that kickstarted it for me. Growing up in Walvis Bay also influenced me. It’s got a fashion vibe and is renowned for ‘dressing up’.
MYD: Let’s talk for a moment about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. IS: I think it’s very important to push beyond a comfort zone because if you don’t, you become stagnant. Coming alive happens when we do soul-searching and find out exactly what our passion is, and then just work on that.
MYD: You were becoming a big name in fashion in the UK, but you decided to bring this passion home. IS: Yes, it’s all about inspiring. In the UK, it’s competitive. Also, everything has already been done in the UK, whereas I feel like Namibia needs me more.
MYD: Have you had support from communities and your family for the work you do? IS: I had to prove myself. My parents were great; they don’t impose their views on me, but in the beginning it was kind of tough. I had to convince people that fashion is a career and not just a hobby. In the beginning, when you say you are a fashion designer, people think you are only stitching or fixing things for people.
MYD: What guided you to be where you are now? IS: It wasn’t someone who helped me – it was the obstacles that made me who I am now. I had this T-shirt brand, Small Boy, and what gave me the drive to carry on were the obstacles that I encountered. Getting the printing done, sourcing the T-shirts, I kind of fell back and said, ‘Okay, let me try,’ and that’s when I decided to go and study, to get into the industry, to understand suppliers.
MYD: What is your advice for dealing with the people who don’t understand, the detractors? IS: Prove them wrong. Believe in yourself first, then find the gap in the market and prove those people wrong, because they will then come onboard. It’s like the fashion industry here that was nonexistent for many years. We’ve got a lot of designers in this country, but not many designers who are celebrated, where people wear their designs regularly. When you start making it a business, that’s when people realise there’s a market for it, and now they are all jumping in.
MYD: What would your advice be for people facing obstacles right now? IS: Just take it on the chin because obstacles will build you into the person you must become. MYD: Who inspires you, Ingo? IS: Creatively, I get inspired by my surroundings, by nature, by people. What inspires me the most is someone who comes from nowhere, and becomes a breath of fresh air, and just makes it in life. A good success story, a good testimony
MYD: How important is passion in the process of building your dreams?
IS: When you do what you’re passionate about, you do it effortlessly. I dressed someone for the MTV Africa Music Awards; we did so many fittings but she rocked it on the red carpet, and the amount of exposure I got from it and the compliments, it was totally worth it. That’s what I live for, but had I been stuck in a career I was not happy about, doing extra hours and not getting paid for them – it would just be stress. So try and find something that you are passionate about, but also realise there will be hard work. Yes, I’m very talented, but I put in that extra work to perfect my game. Talent is not enough; you have to put in the overtime. All the great people, they put in overtime. The great sportsman, they train – when other people have gone, they stay behind and put in an extra day to become not just good, but great. When you’re starting out, you put in the effort and you’re not really making money. But you are building your brand, and at some point someone is going to come with a big offer and say, “Hey, I want your product – I need thousands of these.” And that’s your ticket. MYD: Do you have any message that you’d like to share? IS: Find your inner self, find your passion, work towards that and put in a hundred and ten per cent. Be like the great Muhammad Ali – even if it’s boastful, say, “I’m the greatest.” Doing that, you automatically instil confidence in yourself that nothing can stop you. Believe in yourself. There are no shortcuts in this industry. You have to work tremendously hard for it to grow.
â&#x20AC;&#x153;A good success story, a good testimony inspires me. We need to install confidence in the youth to take their ideas and make them into careers that make life easier for people.â&#x20AC;? 59
PASSION TAKES FLIGHT JOHN DE ALMEIDA John de Almeida’s career has taken many turns, from the restaurant industry to landmine clearing and finally to the skies.
oday, John is chief pilot and owner of Samawati Hot Air Ballooning Camp and Tours Namibia.
balloon. You need hot air to inflate the balloon and the hot air inside the balloon has to be hotter than the ambient temperature. Once you get to that temperature, you have lift-off, and then you become one with the wind. When you change altitude and there is a change in wind currents, you feel a bit of a breeze, but once you’re in that current you feel absolutely nothing. You can have a candle in your hand and the wind won’t blow it out because you are the wind. So you just float like a cloud. It’s absolutely marvellous.
MYD: You have such an interesting career and such a unique passion. Tell us what it is that you do for a living. JDA: I am a commercial hot-air balloon pilot. I started flying in 2009, first in the south, in Sossusvlei, and then I worked in France for a year. I got my second pilot’s licence in Germany and then flew in Switzerland, Germany and France and eventually Ethiopia. After I did the Ethiopian season, I came back to Namibia and started my own company.
MYD: What does it feel like when you are up above Namibia, looking down, and it’s completely silent? JDA: The feeling is absolute bliss because you detach yourself from Earth and you are then in another element. You have a lot more respect for weather – you have to, because Mother Nature is something we cannot control, as much as we think we can. This is where I really got to understand nature, because you have to be part of it. If you try to go against it, you are going to find yourself back on the ground very quickly.
MYD: What do you love about being in a hot-air balloon? JDA: It’s the sense of being part of the wind and floating above the valleys and looking at life from a different perspective – not with the rush you get in a fixed-wing aircraft or a helicopter. You actually have time to admire and take it in. It has to be a passion otherwise it won’t work.
MYD: And it’s a good philosophy for life, to learn how to go with the flow. JDA: Go with the flow, exactly.
MYD: If we don’t have passion for what we do, it’s just that much harder, right? JDA: Yes, then it becomes a drag. Then you have moments when want to give up because you think, “It’s not really worth it, all this hard work.” When you realise that your heart is in it, you wake up and say, “I’m going to go for it.” MYD: What have the highlights of your career been as a hot-air balloon pilot? JDA: Flying in Ethiopia. When I was finishing my season in France, I read something about Ethiopian ballooning so I contacted the owner and he said, “Well, you’re welcome – come through and we’ll see where it goes.” I spent two days with him and then he said, “Okay, here’s my company – I’m going back to Holland, so here, take over.” So I took over the company for three months, flying in Ethiopia. That was really beautiful. MYD: How does a hot-air balloon function? JDA: In a hot-air balloon, you have three parts: the basket, the burner and the envelope. The envelope is the actual
“The feeling is absolute bliss because you detach yourself from Earth and you are then in another element.” 61
UNIVERSITY FELLOWSHIPS FOR STUDENTS WITH BLAZING AMBITION
he Allan Gray Orbis Foundation (the Foundation) brings together a fellowship of individuals of extraordinary character, each selected and groomed by the Foundation, though not for a return on investment for the organisation itself as there are no obligations to ‘give back’ to the company. No, the obligation goes far beyond the firm – to make an impact in the countries, cities and communities where they live.
The purpose of the Foundation is to nurture entrepreneurship, which Allan Gray himself believes is the best way to ensure long-term equality and prosperity in Southern Africa and the world. Fellowship recipients, known as Candidate Allan Gray Fellows, receive funding for university, but more importantly they are given access to a network of remarkably accomplished individuals who inspire and help to cultivate each Fellow’s entrepreneurial mindset. These three young Namibians share their inspiring journey to becoming part of the Fellowship.
JUSTINE SHIKOMBA I was fortunate to receive a Foundation Scholarship, which allowed me to go to St Paul’s College for high school. In grade 12 I applied for the Fellowship. It is a lengthy process, with many essays, and this lead to a three-hourlong interview and then I was invited to a selection camp. At the selection camp there were many sleepless nights. I was a grade 12 learner along with first and second year students. The one thing they tell you is just to be yourself. But you get there and you’re not even sure yet who ‘yourself’ is, so you just try. It’s amazing to be part of the programme. It is a nurturing, growing process. You get allocated a personal leadership officer and she or he is continuously in contact with you. Then there are self-development reviews, and they ask you thought-provoking questions to gauge how far you’ve come. It’s not a case of them sending you off with a cheque to go and perform: they show you that you are smarter and more capable than you think you are. Every year over 300 Fellows come together for a jamboree, where you hash out entrepreneurial ideas. You can see people have thought
about amazing ideas to conquer the problems we have in society. You see how people’s degrees and what they have studied shape their ideas. I want to be an actuary when I graduate. I love accounting-based maths, not physics-based maths. It’s tangible. Actuaries model the future, whereas accountants show you what happened in the past. We use what we have now and try to see how that will apply in the future. My message to school children would be that it gets harder, but you just need to keep pushing until you can’t any more, and even if you can’t any more, there are probably people around you that can help you. You must have the end goal in mind. It’s four years of suffering for an eternity of amazingness. RORY PARKER I was about 10 years old when I figured out that I had an immense passion for numbers and hence wanted to go into the actuarial field. At Windhoek Gymnasium, I chose subjects such as Mathematics, Entrepreneurship, Accounting and Physical Science that would help me achieve my vision and develop my cognitive ability.
Mr Gray himself recognises that there’s a huge unemployment problem in Southern Africa and he wants children and young adults to become entrepreneurs to be part of a solution for the continent. After I finish my Actuarial Science degree at Stellenbosch University and hopefully get my honours, I hope to go to Harvard Business School to get my MBA. Then I want to work in a foreign country, gather experience and then come back to Namibia and employ local brain boxes to help me set up a hedge fund. If I can create employment and provide an income for families, that will be a privilege. My mantra for life may be a cliché, but I believe, ‘You work hard in silence and let success make the noise.’ I believe you need to be humble, work hard and never give up.
There are many people who go to work, clock out and go home, and that’s not something that I want to do with my life. I want to do something bigger than that. With the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellowship, they help you through university to get your qualification, but they will also give you venture capital when you start your business, which is incredibly rare nowadays.
TUYENI AKWENYE I was born in Angola in 1989. My name Tuyeni means ‘Let’s go’ in Oshiwambo, because I was born three months before everybody started going back to Namibia. I went to Emma Hoogenhout Primary School in Windhoek and then to St Paul’s College. My final year of high school was the first year that Allan Gray Orbis Foundation invited Namibians to apply for the Fellowship. The application is extensive, and I took time to do it properly because I could tell that through the application process they were already identifying
a particular type of person. We were a group of four Namibians at the selection camp, where we had to do a lot of presentations and the judges were very firm. I think they wanted to test people under pressure to see how we would react. I’m a hard worker. I try my best, but I also don’t beat myself up. When I fell short, I just figured that I had tried my best. If my team presented something that was shot down by the judges, we would go back and work on it. It was a good learning curve, and very competitive, and the funny thing is that the people who we thought were going to get in actually didn’t, so obviously they weren’t looking for people who are trying to be the loudest or the smartest. It was only once I’d got into first year that I began to understand what the Foundation is trying to do. We would meet every second Saturday and do activities based on the different pillars of the Foundation. Sometimes we would focus on academic excellence, the spirit of selflessness or helping our community – things to engage our minds and develop and train us. Different facilitators came to do different sessions. Sometimes we would even run makeshift businesses. My dream is for Namibia to become a truly integrated country, and one with an excellent education system. With a small population and the amount of resources we have, I believe it is possible. We can have the best education system in SADC if we really invest in it and train our teachers. If we are able think and work together, there’s a lot we can achieve.
Allan Gray 2 Heritage Square 100 Robert Mugabe Avenue Windhoek Tel: +264 (0)61 22 1103 www.allangrayorbis.org
WORKING HARD AND ALL THAT JAZZ SUZI EISES Suzi Eises, a soulful saxophone master who has proven her star power, is currently one of the hottest properties in the Namibian music industry.
uzi hails from a very musical family. Her uncle, Dennis Eises, is a celebrated Namibian musician, so music has always been a part of who she is. 99FM MYD spoke to Suzi about expectations and learning to become fearless.
Namibians. When we focus too much on others, it gets in the way. MYD: Do you have a personal philosophy for life or a mantra that you live by? SE: There’s this quote by Maya Angelou that says, “Nothing will work unless you do,” and I feel that is so true. I used to struggle with being lazy. So I can play the instrument, but if you understand music, you really have to spend hours and hours and hours practising, and I struggle with that. So that quote helps me to know that if you want to be somebody, if you want to do something, you have to work, you have to work on yourself.
MYD: Your star status is rising. How did you become a saxophonist? SE: It all started when I was sixteen. I saw the high school band perform at assembly and I was really amazed at how they played. I already played the piano, but when I saw the saxophone I asked the director if I could please try it. I learnt it in high school and after school I went to London to attend a course – that’s when I got into jazz music. In 2011, after I left London, I had my first public performance in Namibia with my uncle, who played the piano.
MYD: What advice would you have for anyone who is struggling in their life right now? SE: I once watched Oprah say that there is no such thing as a mistake. Whatever you do personally, spiritually, mentally, physically, it’s not a mistake – it’s part of the plan. Sometimes we need to be broken in order to be beautiful.
MYD: What was the response like? SE: It was really good. I am very lucky to have my uncle because he is tough and he knows the music industry.
MYD: That reminds me of something I recently heard, that sometimes you go through really difficult times, but you have to choose to be better or you going to be bitter. Suzi, do you have a message for Namibia? SE: I think that in order for you to be successful and happy, you need to be patient with yourself and with other people. Another thing to remember is that focus is so important. Remember what you want to be, not what other people want you to be. And then have faith.
MYD: Would you say that you have high expectations of yourself? SE: Wow, I do. People see me as a celebrity, a queen or something, but I don’t see myself that way. I still see myself as a little girl, trying to play music. But because of the response, I expect so much of myself. MYD: How do you think we can build our identities in the arts? SE: I think we shouldn’t fear to really represent who we are as Namibians. I think a lot of countries in Africa like to follow other trends, Western culture and things like that, and I think it’s so important for us to be fearless and be who we are. MYD: How do we become fearless, Suzi? SE: There are a lot of things thrown at us. You look at the Western world and you say, “Okay, this is how I need to be; this is how I need to look.” We get distracted a lot, but we are from Namibia, we are in a small country. It is quiet. I think we should focus on that. Focus on the true spirit of
“Sometimes we need to be broken in order to be beautiful.” 65
RAINDANCING TULI SHITYUWETE From So You Think You Can Dance to performing for the Queen of England, Namibian professional dancer, singer and actress Tuli Shityuwete has danced on stages across the world.
TS: I studied dance at the University of Cape Town but I did social anthropology as my elective. People have always been a huge thing for me, so I’ve studied history, anthropology, sociology and psychology, and for the past four years I’ve been working in human rights. That’s definitely my second passion.
ogether with her business partner, Haymich Olivier, Tuli started First Rain Dance Theatre, a dance company in the capital. When she’s not dancing, Tuli is active in human rights and development work, and was selected as one of the young African leaders to attend the Mandela Washington Fellowship in the United States.
MYD: What would you say you’re passionate about in the human rights sphere in Namibia? TS: For the past four years I’ve been working a lot in LGBT rights across southern Africa, and then this year I’ve worked with local sex-worker groups, the Society of Family Health and the Positive Vibes trust, looking at the rights of sex workers. They’re a very vulnerable population of women and they’re on the frontline of the gender issues that we’re experiencing in Namibia because they are not legally protected. It’s a very difficult human rights situation and because of the moral gaze society has about sex work, it’s difficult to advocate for – but it’s important.
MYD: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today. TS: I was born and bred in Namibia, or born in exile technically, bred in Namibia, and I’ve been dancing since I was four years old. They say it takes ten thousand hours to truly master something. I counted once: I think I’m in at about fifteen thousand at the moment, so it was really a major obsession for me. I think that’s what made the difference. It wasn’t something that I only did when I was in ballet class – it was something I did all the time.
MYD: You were selected to participate in the Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI, to go to the States and study. Tell us about that. TS: Both of the jobs I do require me to fill other people’s cups and so my cup is often left quite empty – I am often running on fumes. YALI filled my cup. It was incredible, such a giving experience. We got to travel around the States and experience the ways that Americans run their businesses. Two of the really cool ones that we got to visit were Timberland and Ben & Jerry’s. Timberland was a bit weird because we all walked in, twenty-five Africans, most of us black, and we suddenly realised that Timberland is not for us. That was a surprising experience but they were very open to having the discussion with us around race and target markets. The only brown people we saw were in their social projects, giving back to communities. Ben & Jerry’s was incredibly interesting. We hadn’t realised that they actually build a lot of social activism into their ice cream. They were boycotted because they support the Black Lives Matter movement. It was very interesting to see how social activism can be built into businesses.
MYD: How did you progress from this love into starting your own studio? TS: We started the company in order to create opportunities for Namibian dancers, to train local dancers. Opening a studio has been an interesting experience. It’s been a very steep learning curve and it hasn’t all been positive. We work seven days a week, sometimes fourteen, fifteen, sixteen hours a day. So it’s definitely taken its toll, but it’s been such an incredible learning experience. We’ve learnt how to be people who are not only artists but also in a creative enterprise. MYD: How did you overcome the difficult times and the challenges? TS: Working hard – that’s really been the key. Also, asking for help and advice from the right people at the right time. When you’re in a situation of real adversity, that’s when you really grow. When you are pushed to your absolute limit, you are forced to be creative in order to survive. MYD: You also studied social anthropology. Tell us about that.
MYD: You mentioned that in the kind of work you are doing, you are giving of yourself and not often filling your own cup. How important is it to fill your own cup? TS: I think it’s paramount. If you are completely empty, it’s very difficult to remain positive and to remain optimistic and to give as much as you need to. I think it’s of utmost importance to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally. MYD: Absolutely, but it’s something we don’t always think about or do. We usually want to make sure that everybody else is okay. TS: It’s interesting looking at it from a gender perspective. As women, we give a lot emotionally, we support a lot. I think it’s a little bit easier for us to ask for help as well. I’ve seen that for Namibian men, it’s very difficult to get emotional and mental support, and I think it’s definitely something that we should shine a light on. I think it’s tough for Namibian men. I think there is a lot of expectation, and not a lot of time has been spent giving Namibian men the tools for adapting to the modern Namibia, with highly educated, working women. Those things are so important. We need to bring everybody along. Where there is misunderstanding, there is frustration; there is a lack of an ability to cope. MYD: And it creates so many other problems. TS: Yes, and I think that’s a cause of some of the violence we’re seeing in our communities, this feeling of powerlessness. I think that it would be great if more men could feel able to access mental and emotional health services, and if it was more socially acceptable for men to be empathetic and to express emotions in different ways. MYD: Tuli, how can we all let go of negativity and really embrace the beauty in ourselves? TS: I think the first thing to do is to be really practical about taking care of ourselves and giving to ourselves. I would advise making a list, writing down the things that make you feel good, with a mixture of things that cost nothing and things that you are willing to invest in. Life can be incredibly difficult, but it’s finding these little ways to invest in myself that has lifted me up and kept me going through these times. MYD: That’s so beautiful because, as you mentioned, this doesn’t have to cost anything. Even just saying nice words to yourself is investing in yourself. TS: Absolutely, and I also can’t push physical activity enough. Doing a dance class or going for a walk, it releases endorphins, it breaks the routine of your day, your body sings. We are not meant to be sedentary beings – we are hunter-gatherers, and we are very physical people. Our bodies carry so much memory. They carry the memory of trauma, they carry the memory of positive things as well.
“We need to bring everybody along. Where there is misunderstanding, there is frustration; there is a lack of an ability to cope.” 69
FIGHTING FOR LIFE TOBIAS NASHILONGO With one punching bag and a dream, Tobias Nashilongo went from poverty to founding the Soweto Boxing Club, where many of Namibia’s best past and current champions have trained. Tobias shared his story of self-sufficiency and hope with 99FM MYD:
y father died when I was a small boy; I can’t even remember him. My mother died after independence. So I went to Walvis Bay. I didn’t have family or a home or money – I just went.
Little by little, people came and saw what we were doing and offered to help. One day I went to the UK for a fight and someone called me to say that there were white people at my gym who had come to renovate the whole gym. I thought maybe it was a joke, but when I came home I found people working there. They said the owner of Orlando Swallows had sent them. Now every kid wanted to be there because it is the best gym, and we had so many kids we didn’t know how to accommodate them.
It was so difficult, even just to live. I stayed in a compound where people who work in the factories stay. I used to take all the food people left on their plates and that would be my dinner. This is why I know how to explain to people what hunger is, what crime is and how you should behave. I never let myself go down.
There was a problem kid that the social worker had failed to deal with, so they brought him to me. I never went to training for it but I am gifted with talking to people – that’s why I can help. I have even had parents call me to tell me that now that their kid is with me, they are doing better at school.
In 1994 I went to Cuba and when I came back to Namibia in 2007, I opened the Soweto Boxing Club and Fitness Academy. I started with just one punching bag. After I got some money, I bought another one. It was difficult then for me to get customers because the boxers would come, see only two punching bags and just go away. But my slogan was always, “Never stay down.” I worked hard until I could get five punching bags, and then the boxers came and stayed. Even Harry Simon joined me. Then people started to recognise my work and I also started to train kids. Some people thought I was mad because the kids couldn’t contribute, and I was doing all this hard work for free, but I was one hundred per cent sure that those boys would represent this country in the Olympic Games or Commonwealth Games one day.
“I’ve realised that it takes many people to make a champion.” 70
RUNNING THIS RACE CALLED LIFE
isa Dreyer, 28, is the youngest director at Dr. Weder, Kauta & Hoveka Inc. She has run multiple marathons, including Two Oceans and the Comrades repeatedly. Her philosophy about endurance running and how that applies to her life in law and the laws of life makes it very clear why she is at the top of her game at such a young age.
“Endurance is more mental than physical. It is about reaching your maximum capacity. In any profession, you also reach a point where you feel like you’ve had enough and can’t go on. Endurance is keeping on beyond that point and proceeding to the next stage. “Sometimes this job gets tiring and there are some difficult patches, like the current economic times we are all facing. Work is more difficult or it’s more difficult to source. For me, the main thing is to push through all of those different stages. “The best reward in my job is client feedback. I love working with people and helping them. From a 90-yearold who is really desperate to do a
will and a testament to millionaire developers – I love the contrast. “In my final year at university I did my first Two Oceans Ultra Marathon. I haven’t stopped since. I also participate in every single marathon in Namibia when I’m able to. “It’s a passion. If you’ve got a passion for something, it drives you and inspires you. It has to do with accomplishing something and moving forward. The feeling you get at the end of a marathon, completing something, that’s really rewarding. “Long–distance running taught me self-discipline and about myself as a human being. It has taught me that everybody, regardless of age, colour or sex, we are all just running this race we call life. The nice thing about running is that we help each other and when you step onto the track or the course, everybody is friends. You don’t know the person from anywhere, but you just start chatting and motivating each other during the difficult times. “In life, you should always try to help people along the way, regardless of who they are or where you are or
whether they can offer you something in return. We are all just trying to do our best.”
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MOTHERING A NATION ROSA NAMISES Rosa Namises played a heroic role in Namibia’s liberation struggle. Both as a politician and an activist, she has made a selfless contribution to the lives of many Namibians.
former Member of Parliament, and founding member and former Secretary General of the Namibia Congress of Democrats, Rosa is a prominent voice on gender issues, human rights and violence against women and children in Namibia. From the halls of power to the Dolam Residential Child Care Centre for vulnerable children, Rosa has spent her life giving to the nation. This is her story.
But there was this doctor who spoke to me. I told him that I wanted to ride a bike and he said, “I have a bike.” So I said, “Can I go with you?” He says, “Ja, I’ll pick you up at four o’clock in front of the hospital door.” Now, four o’clock was visiting time – matrons, everybody is out, and here I was with my uniform. So, here I was, a nurse in uniform on the bike, this black woman with this white man – it has never been heard of. The next morning, I was called to the matron’s office. It was now the talk of the whole hospital. But we were really not bothered about that, so we continued with the friendship. I was a rebel and I needed to speak about this unfairness, so I joined the SWAPO Youth League and I became first the secretary and then the chairperson of the Youth League. It was also a very hard time. SWAPO was not banned, but it was not allowed to have rallies and meetings. But I organised a rally, and that rally really caused trouble. We, the young people, were up in arms. The executorship was saying, “Don’t do rallies; don’t get together,” but we were saying it was too quiet, we needed to raise our voices, and so it happened that I got arrested regularly. I was targeted. I remember when the Cassinga people were released and we needed to reintegrate them into the community, so we had a welcome and orientation party. It was not a party for the SWAPO Party – it was just SWAPO members having a party. The security would not allow it. I was honest, and told them it was a party for the detainees. I was arrested. Those things really make you look at things differently. The torturing was really severe, like standing up against the wall the whole day and not being allowed to sit. So many questions you are being asked, and sometimes the armyuniformed guys that you don’t know would come and with a gun and threaten to shoot you dead that night. I decided it was too much and went on a hunger strike. They would ask me, “Do you believe in Sam Nujoma? Do you believe in this and that? Who organised this braai?” Some officers would come in the night and say that I must just tell them what they want. Sometimes, they beat children in the next room, and because I had one son at that time, they would say, “Today we are going to beat your child.”
MYD: Let us start at the beginning. Tell us about yourself. RN: I am a child of the old location. I was born at the time of the second forceful removals and I experienced that. I also think my birth tells quite a lot about me. My father came from Angola, a different culture, where things were in order: your child is born in a maternity hall, in a hospital. My mom was Namibian. She would collect and eat wild berries and drink sour milk. My dad was very worried about their child being born at home with midwives. But when my mom got labour pains, I was not waiting. I was born under a tree. It’s a sour tree. I usually go back there on my birthdays and have fruits and wild berries there. I grew up and went to school in Katutura, but this was also the time of school boycotts. My dad was very angry. He said, “I didn’t call you to do boycotts – I called you to go to school.” So he put me in a place where I would do a bit of office work, cleaning and helping. I must have been around seventeen. One morning at work I made a proposal, asking people to bring their cup to the kitchen. I was dismissed without pay. My dad was like, “You don’t go and tell people that.” I said, “No, I was just making a proposal,” and that’s when I realised there was something in me that was looking for fair practices. Still today I really believe it was just a beautiful cooperative kind of a proposal that I was making. So my dad got me a job at the Katutura Hospital. It was 1974. I was studying and went on to become an enrolled nurse. I worked there up until 1985. One thing that happened at the hospital – it was again about colour and power. Now, in the hospital, as a black nurse you only talked to a doctor when you interacted about a patient – that’s all. It was really very strict. Of course, it was apartheid then and that was it.
RN: We all have light within us. In some, the light has darkened. Those of us who still have the light of compassion – we must use this compassion to kill the pain. It can be done in different ways. You can be friends with those who are in those dark places. Another way is to create spaces where they can come and just be people, recognised as human beings. I always have this memory when we talk about ubuntu. When older people were living – our mothers, our fathers, our grandparents – when they slaughtered a goat, it would be cut into pieces and you would be sent to go and give it to Tannie, and then you’d come back to the house with maize meal from Tannie. I am told there was a big drought when we were small, but I can’t remember it because I had always something to eat. For me, that shows food security in that community. For me, that is a clear manifestation of, ‘You are because I am’. I think that should be something today’s Namibians should inherit.
I’m thinking, “Oh my goodness, then I have to speak.” So they beat them. The child is crying and crying. I didn’t know – maybe it was a tape recorder but it sounded like my son. I was going crazy in this cell, beating on the floor. It was 1989: no lawyer, no family visits and so on. I am from the Catholic Church, and around this time Pik Botha went to the Pope to talk about peace. There was some uprising outside and the Pope said, “But you are arresting my church members.” It was so good the Church was engaged, and Pik was so angry with his team that we were released immediately. That was quite a good day. My brother and some friends went into exile, but I think something was really holding me back and making me in stay in the country. Until 1990 I was very deeply involved in the SWAPO Party. But that’s when I had to leave. I went into a very deep depression. My two worlds were turning upside down: the world I’d built for the SWAPO that I knew, and the world I saw from the SWAPO that came back were too different. Then I got a job with the Legal Assistance Centre. I trained as a paralegal and educted people on the Constitution. That’s how I started to heal myself from the pain of the past. I was travelling all over the country by myself, getting to know the San community, the OvaHimba communities, the Topnaar communities. It was a good opportunity. The country needed to reform laws and I was involved in doing that great work. It was not only for the people, but also for my personal growth as I created a deeper understanding of where we were. In 1999, the COD asked me to partake and I joined them. That led to me becoming a Member of Parliament, but a Member of Parliament with a civil society background. I think it’s a very good thing for Members of Parliament to be involved in the community before becoming Parliamentarians. MYD: And all these years later, you are still involved in the community. How did you start the Dolam Children’s Home? RN: I think the Dolam Children’s Home is a way of paying forward privilege. I was working at the Catholic Church doing a lot in development work. One weekend the girls came home with a little girl. On Sunday I said, “So, tomorrow is Monday – everybody must go back to their homes, so let’s take this child back.” They were hesitant about going. We drove to a house and I knocked on the door. A person came out and said, “No, go behind.” Behind was just an old car wreck. The child was living there. I couldn’t leave the child. I took her to the social workers, and they asked me to hold on to her and they would come back, but they didn’t come back. It was 1999 when Dolam started in Katutura, and we have managed to provide shelter and education and just stand in as a mother for children, to listen and be with them. It is a challenge. The children are coming from very traumatised backgrounds. I see the impact of that trauma, how it really works. This whole story of peer pressure, of poverty, of lack of a father in the family home – I have seen it playing out. MYD: What would you say is the one thing we could do to assist Namibians today? How could we help to heal?
“Those of us who still have the light of compassion – we must use this compassion to kill the pain.” 75
A PASSION FOR PURPOSE AND PEOPLE SVEN THIEME As a truly African company employing more than 6 200 people in various business sectors, the Ohlthaver & List Group is rooted in, and committed to, Africa and all her people.
MYD: You’ve achieved incredible success as the chairman of Ohlthaver & List. What would you attribute this success to? ST: Number one is my love for people. Surround yourself with great people, look after them and train them. It goes as far as saying that our people are our most important asset, because the better we look after our people, the more passionate they will be about looking after the customer and consumer. In other words, I don’t have to tell people what they need to do – they will be inspired to do it themselves, and that collectively results in success.
oday, O&L is Namibia’s largest privately held group of companies, with revenues contributing roughly 4% to GDP. It has business interests in food production, fishing, beverages, farming, retail trade, information technology, property leasing and development, renewable power generation, marine engineering, advertising and the leisure and hospitality industry.
With annual revenues of over N$5 billion, O&L is a major contributor to state coffers and to the communities where it operates. This diverse group is actively engaged in uplifting the lives of its employees, its consumers and our society, relentlessly pursuing a sustainable future for all and passionately embracing its Purpose, ‘Creating a future, enhancing life,’ in everything we do, while actively pursuing its Vision, ‘To be the most progressive and inspiring company.’
MYD: Those are important values for leadership and life. In terms of your personal values, how do you use these to advance your career and your business? ST: I believe that you have to be extremely honest and have integrity. You have to say what needs to be said at the time. And, of course you need to have a dream, a goal in life, and stick to what you want to achieve. But our values will determine how we do things – the how is very important. What goes around comes around.
O&L World is a leadership and development management programme for employees, which teaches purpose, values and leadership competencies. The programme aims to stimulate extraordinary results by generating breakthrough thinking from which opportunities for creation and invention around current and future business issues, goals and objectives will emerge.
MYD: How do we bring across the concept of purpose to bigger communities? Because once we understand purpose, we understand that we have power in our lives. ST: Purpose is to me the beginning of everything. I think we’ve missed it in the last few years, maybe even up to a century. We have forgotten that purpose can be the igniter, the little fire that keeps us going all the time. And if you look at the 2008 and 2009 global crisis, it predominantly happened because organisations didn’t drive their businesses with purpose. At O&L, we took it so seriously that in 2011 we formulated our own purpose, which is ‘Creating a future, enhancing life’. Everything starts with the purpose – it is at the centre. Then it circles out to why you do things, and to the how and what: What do you want to achieve? If you look at creating a future and enhancing life, part of what I do is for the next generation. If I want to leave a better future for my children or the next generation, I’ll be very responsible in what I do now, to look after the country, like not polluting the environment.
Steering this enormous ship with a passion and vision that has moved mountains in terms of economic and social wellbeing in Namibia is O&L Group Executive Chairman, Sven Thieme. MYD: Most of us know the businessman, the captain of industry, Sven Thieme. What would you say defines who you are? ST: It’s difficult to say, but I think it is that I am passionate. I have a passion for our country, a passion for people in particular. I believe that if we all take responsibility for the bigger picture, we can have a completely different world. I’m passionate about making people understand what it would mean if we could all experience such a life.
We need to make people believe that they are worth a lot, no matter where or who they are. We need to find a way to this common purpose. If we all believe that we can make a difference to Namibia, we would have no issue. Namibia is not that big. I can probably make you a list of ten points – if we drive these ten points, we will have a better life for everyone. Not in a hundred years, but probably in a span of maybe three to five years. Things could be completely different. MYD: Give us a few of those ten points. ST: We must make sure that we get our education system up to scratch. We need to get our medical system up to scratch because if there is no medicine or we wait days for treatment, that takes productivity out of the economy. We all need to be disciplined about corruption – that money could be used to take people off the street, to give water, provide electricity and so forth. We wouldn’t have so many accidents because people would be more disciplined on the roads. Discipline doesn’t require education. Putting the money we’ve got into the right places doesn’t take education. It’s fairly simple; it’s not very complex.
It is very hard work. It takes a lot of convincing people. Yet the reward of leaving something good for the next generation ... How much more motivation do you need?
MYD: Your message for 2018? ST: Last year was a very tough year – we all know that – with the down grading and so forth. I think we shouldn’t overrate this. The little failures we had last year – let’s embrace them and take them forward and learn from them. We had a number of successes with little innovations or initiatives on some projects. We often waste too much time on the big things. Let’s celebrate the small things and not waste time. We need to grow local. We need to support local. I think that’s starting to be understood by people. It is important. Every cent of imported material is a job being exported. If we bought local, we could take people off the street. If we’re exporting raw material, we’re exporting jobs. And, of course, we need peace. There are many counties that don’t have peace, that don’t have the stability we have. That’s a success and a continuous success. We should be thankful for the success we have.
MYD: I’ve heard so many business coaches talk about how successful people have made friends with failure. Because failure will happen, it’s about getting comfortable with the process. ST: There’s a saying: Failure is very important to learn. Often, the people who don’t have failures never risk anything. You have to take risks to realise a dream, embrace it and see failure as learning. MYD: The economic challenges we’ve had in the past year are also opportunities for us to learn, to grow and evolve. I believe that every employee attends the O&L World leadership programme because you believe that every person is a leader in their own lives? ST: Everyone is a leader. Often people say, “Well, I am not a leader – I’m just a domestic lady,” or, “I’m just a security guard.” But if you think about it, you are leading your life. You’re leading your family, your destiny. So everyone is a leader. It always amazes me that in schools, universities and throughout our careers, leadership is never taught as a subject. The O&L World leadership programme takes people on a journey to understand the actual potential that lies within, and what a difference they can make. People normally associate being handicapped with a physical shortcoming, but I think the only people that are handicapped are the ones that don’t use their minds.
O & L Group Alexander Forbes House 7th Floor South Block 23-33 Fidel Castro Street P.O. Box 16, Windhoek, Namibia Corporate Relations: Tel: +264 61 207 5111 Ext. 5207 Fax: +264 61 234 021 www.ohlthaverlist.com
MYD: How would you say can we create stronger communities? ST: We must believe that everyone can make a difference. I will tell a till operator: “Do you know that you are as important as the manager? Because when a customer goes to a shop and has a great experience but gets to the till operator and the service is bad, they will walk out and the only thing they will talk about is the bad service at the till.”
t takes a visionary business culture to spot, encourage and nurture the potential in people, where people with the right attitude and personal values are able to grow organically and embark them on a career journey that often surpasses their expectations. These three ladies ‘grew up’ and continue to grow with the support and encouragement of Santam, where potential is unleashed. Ruth Diergaardt turned a temporary position as a receptionist and switchboard operator into a career that has seen her learn new skills and take on new challenges everywhere from the Claims Department to Marketing, and most recently as a relationship manager.
“At times I was afraid of stepping out of my comfort zone, but Santam helped me grow step by step. They will give you the work, but they will never leave you in the dark – they will always have your back. “I was sent on a detailed learning development programme in South Africa, which covered leadership training, business studies and
economics. There were four of us from Namibia and we did the best out of all ten Africa groups. That programme awakened something in me. I still need to go out there and learn, learn, learn. “I know this is my place, these are my people, my family, and I’m proud.” Purdy Eberenz started her career at Santam as a receptionist, but given her typing and administration skills, she was promoted to underwriting, and two years later she moved on to Sales. “The Sales people saw potential in me because I always asked the right questions, and I’ve been with Santam for 11 years now. “Franco, our CEO, and the management team invest so much in us to help us to develop and grow. Through the leadership development programme, I learnt to stop thinking about what I was going to say and to just listen. That changed everything. Listening gave me a voice.” Fleshita Naobes’ work at Santam took her from a receptionist position to accounting, a field she never
considered until her journey at Santam lead her there. “When they said I was moving to Accounts, I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this is money and it’s my responsibility and I stopped accounting in Grade 10... What am I going to do?’ But it has been an amazing journey. I learnt a lot. Now I’m a second-year student at UNAM, doing a diploma course. I want to become a real accountant, not just a clerk. “Santam will provide financial assistance to help us pursue our studies, and if there’s something I don’t understand, there are a lot of people here willing to help. My manager is my mentor, and Santam is an inspiration.”
Priscilla.email@example.com Tel: +264 61 292 8000 www.santam.co.za
THE VILLAGE DOCTOR DR RUBEN KANIME Inspired by a teacher and nurtured by his family and the larger family that is one’s community, Dr Ruben Kanime’s path has taken him from a small village in the Omusati Region, to Windhoek, and then on to Russia in pursuit of his dream to become a doctor.
RK: The response was good. When I graduated, people were happy – there were celebrations all over. Expectations were also high. This calling comes with a lot of responsibility, not just in my clinical setting but also from my community. I remember in 2012 when I’d just graduated and started working as an intern doctor, I received a letter from my community. There was a kindergarten, which looked more like a Cuca shop in those days, and they wrote a letter that they wanted to name it after me. I took time to sit down with myself. Why should a kindergarten be named after me? What am I being honoured for? Okay, I brought a qualification to the community, but I decided to accept it with a different approach – instead of naming the kindergarten after me, I asked that they name it after my father, who was actually part of the Namibian liberation struggle. He was a traditional leader, he was a businessman and he did a lot more for the community than I did. So I said rather name it after my father, but I’ll still be a friend to the kindergarten as a patron.
is determination and passion ‘to look inside’ made him the first medical doctor not only in his family, but also in his village.
MYD: You have an incredible story, Dr Kanime. Share with us your journey to becoming a medical doctor. RK: I was born in a small village. I started my primary school there and my secondary education I finished at Rucana. Then, in 2004, I came to Windhoek for the first time. In 2004, when the results came out, I had performed exceptionally well. I wanted to study medicine but back then we didn’t have a school of medicine in Namibia. So, I started with my second choice, which was engineering, at the Polytechnic of Namibia. In my second semester I got an opportunity to go and study medicine through the Ministry of Education. In October of the same year I left for the Russian Federation. MYD: I believe you had to learn Russian to study medicine in Russia. Where did your passion for medicine come from? RK: My dream about becoming a medical doctor started when I was at Rucana. We were not so well off when it comes to career guidance, but I had a Science teacher from Zimbabwe who was really good with career guidance. He brought different individuals from different companies, medical doctors, engineers, geologists, to talk to us and that’s when we started to get exposed to different careers. My dream started in one of our Biology lessons while I was studying a chapter on human organs. I started imagining how I looked inside, and I wanted to see a human being from the inside. That is where my dream started.
MYD: That’s really beautiful and today the kindergarten is fully functioning. Tell us about the volunteer work you do, Dr Kanime. RK: I was brought up not only by my biological parents but also by the community. You know that spirit of ubuntu – a person is a person because of others. I still believe that we should not live in isolation, no matter our status – we are all human beings. With my calling as a medical doctor, my prime purpose is to help other people, so that’s why volunteer work occupies a special place in my heart. My message is that we should continue the spirit of ubuntu, because it is only when we are working together that we will overcome our societal challenges. Only then will we be able to live a dignified life – not one where we have a segment of the population living well while others are eating from dustbins.
MYD: I believe that you are the first medical doctor not only in your family, but also in your village. What has the response been like from your family and members of the community?
MYD: Who inspired you, Dr Kanime? RK: First and foremost, I was inspired by my father. He is my hero. Unfortunately, he passed on when I was writing my final exams at the university. He was a hard worker. There was no time in our lives that we went to bed hungry. I remember his words when I went to study. He told me not to expect an easy life. He said easy lives are for lazy people. There will always be challenges and I must always be prepared to sail through them. It’s those challenges that mould us – they make us better people.
I believe that for every difficult challenge there is always a solution. If you share your problem with other people, it brings us back to the concept of ubuntu – that we need one another. Challenges will be there, but challenges can be overcome when we are interconnected. For Namibia as a nation, we have so much work that needs to be done. It is upon us, the youth, to take the bull by its horns and be very creative in our area of practice. Every day we must think, “What can I do for Namibia?” instead of just, “What can I do for myself and my family?”
Every day we must think, “What can I do for Namibia?” instead of just, “What can I do for myself and my family?”
“Challenges will be there, but challenges can be overcome when we are interconnected.” 83
THE BALANCING ACT OF AN UNEDITED CULTURE KYLE WEEKS Namibian photographer Kyle Weeks is challenging perceptions about using photography to portray traditional tribes.
y thesis while I was studying was on the representation of African people, and this informed my whole approach to photography,” shares Kyle. “If you look at the history of photography in Africa, the camera was used as a tool of oppression by colonising countries. African people were photographed and depicted in a way that fed into negative stereotypes.
“I realised that young Himba men are hardly ever photographed because they tend to wear mostly Western clothing and so do not fit the image most tourists have in their minds of Himba people. “I wanted to contest the view of the Himba as being unchanging and document the shift towards modernity in young Himba men, to show that they are evolving with modernity and finding the balance between tradition and the modern world.”
“There is always a relationship between the photographer and the subject. There is always a power play between what the person being photographed wants and what the photographer wants. That is one of the reasons why I decided to do more of a self-portrait project with the young Himba men I photographed. I wanted to minimise my influence over the images and give them an opportunity to represent themselves as they wanted to be seen.” Kyle’s highly acclaimed exhibition, OvaHimba Youth Self Portraits, which was four years in the making, brings together two opposing narratives. Kyle notes that his interest in these themes probably started when he travelled to the Kunene Region as a young boy and fell in love with the people and the landscape. “Four years ago, I started photographing the environment of the Kunene Region and the people who live there, especially the OvaHimba people. I felt that the photographs I had seen taken of the OvaHimba people don’t really contribute to the formation of a contemporary Himba identity. I saw that the people were modernising, but the images that were being taken of them were not showing their modernisation at all.” This, he says, troubled him, as it is not representative of the evolution of the people and their battle to hold on to their heritage in a world of modernity.
Kyle’s solo exhibition at the National Art Gallery of Namibia wowed Namibian audiences and his unique talent is in hot demand, especially after the prestigious Magnum Photography Award he received in 2016.
As a parting remark, the talented young photographer offered: “I have to often remind myself to enjoy the journey. Artists in general are very quick to compare themselves to others, and I think comparison is the thief of joy. I have had to teach myself that.”
“It’s one of the biggest photography competitions in the world. I entered the work I did on the collection of Palm Wine Collectors, and won first prize for the Fine Art category. That’s hugely propelled my career. In the past month I have received emails from around the world, from The New York Times and other amazing publications that want to feature my work.” Kyle’s latest exhibition, Palm Wine Collectors, materialised after he returned to the Kunene Region to give each man he had photographed a print of the image he had taken of them, along with a thank-you note in their mother tongue. Kyle was invited to photograph a traditional practice, which shows the age-old but illegal Himba custom of milking the Makalani palms. This has become a controversial practice as Makalani palms are protected in Namibia for conservation purposes. Milking the palms has nevertheless been part of Himba culture for centuries, and the Himba believe it does not cause damage to the plant species as only older palms are milked. The event provided Kyle not only a unique photographic opportunity, but also a unique perspective on the difficulties involved in keeping a traditional culture alive in modern times.
IF THE SHOE FITS ... OPERI TJITEERE The right shoe that is comfortable and made with quality will give a person peace of mind as their feet have peace in their expression,” says Operi Tjiteere, the man behind handmade-shoe enterprise Operi Handmade.
or Operi, design is the key factor in producing the right shoe: “The design is what makes the shoe perfect. Without the perfect design to begin with, you will not have the perfect shoe.”
that could be sold to both the local and the tourist market. But like many young entrepreneurs, Operi needed guidance to set his business apart and help him move from the position of being a full-time employee to a full-time business owner.
Learning the fundamentals of business development is also key to budding entrepreneurs like Operi. He is an entrepreneurial development-training graduate from the Intensive Product Development (IPD) programme, an intensive product-development course for local entrepreneurs supported by local government and run through FABlab Namibia.
Operi plans on increasing his production. In the future, he would like to pay forward his learning: “I want to be able to grow this business to provide more job opportunities, especially for the youth of Namibia. I have learnt that hard work pays off, so never give up on your dreams.”
FABlab was the first advanced-manufacturing, prototyping and design lab in Namibia. It was opened in partnership with the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development to enhance local product competitiveness and bridge the technological divide. With shoe-manufacturing training and support from the entrepreneur incubators, Operi developed an operation in Okahandja making shoes, sandals and belts, as well as repairing leather products. When he started the enterprise he was still working full time and repairing shoes on weekends. He said that he noticed a business opportunity in the manufacturing of leather goods
“I want to be able to grow this business to provide more job opportunities, especially for the youth of Namibia. I have learnt that hard work pays off, so never give up on your dreams.” 88
obert Grant, one of the partners at KPMG Namibia, backed his beliefs with money from his own pocket when he launched the Senior Partner Award – a monetary award given to KPMG employees that staff voted as the most deserving, based on how they live the KPMG values, values that include integrity, respecting the individual and giving back to our communities.
A year ago, the Senior Partner Award was shared between three exceptional members of staff whose personal values clearly made an impact on their coworkers. The winners received prize money and the opportunity to ‘pay it forward’ by donating a second sum of money from KPMG to a charity or cause of their choice. “There are a number of gaps in society, through social imbalances, gender discrepancies or leaders who are not fulfilling the role that they should. Social investment is required in our country and we are committed to the communities that we operate in,” shares Robert. “We support a number of charity initiatives, but we also try to take corporate social initiatives a bit further, because it’s easy to write a cheque, but that’s not always the solution.” Irmgard Kanyetu, senior accountant in the Audit Department of KPMG Namibia and one of last year’s winners, found the opportunity to get involved in community outreach overwhelming.
“Getting to talk to the volunteers that work with these children day to day was so meaningful, especially as the centre gets children off the streets. You get to see how you are actually making a difference in some of their lives. I think it’s everybody’s duty to care for our planet and for the people who live here.” Another winner, Gino Absai, trainee in the Tax Department, adds, “We get the chance to give to the charity, but it doesn’t just end once you’ve gone and painted and done repairs. We now have an ongoing relationship with the people who work there. It’s taught us that you don’t need to have a million dollars in your bank account to make that difference – you can do it every day.” The third winner, Adele van der Bank, Executive Assistant to the partners at KPMG, stresses that the value of giving back is part of the firm’s foundation. ”KPMG International was one of the first audit firms to truly adopt these values. It’s starts in the way they recruit you. You are interviewed and have to explain what you do or want to contribute to society. Working for KPMG, it’s in your DNA – all these values that we represent.” Robert adds, “Every year we have a MAD Day – Make A Difference Day – a global initiative of KPMG. We go out and make a difference, not just by throwing money after things. We identify a project that is in desperate need of either financial resources and/
or assistance. The last two years we’ve supported crèches in Katutura and a school in Dordabis. “We spend a day with the kids, read with them, play with them or, if the facilities are in dire straits, we go out and we repaint the building or the infrastructure. If something is beyond our abilities – I wouldn’t trust one of the trainee accountants with the plumbing equipment because they’d probably break it more than fix it – then we’ll get a plumber in and pay them from the funds we’ve set aside. “Some of these places we’ve visited, those kids get one meal a day. That’s their only meal for the whole day, so we take a team to cook for the kids. Some of the schools work on a rotational basis, with some kids coming in the morning and then another group of students in the afternoon. Schools are just so full overfull - so basically you have 12-hour school days, with different students but the same teachers. “Only through involvement in these projects do you actually realise how much need there is in our country for these outreach projects.”
Tel: +264 61 387 500 www.kpmg.com/na
THE SPACE BETWEEN US IS WHERE WE CAN BE THE RIVERWALK PROJECT REIMAGINES URBAN INTEGRATION Collaboration between a dynamic group of passionate urbanists in Windhoek resulted in a dream called The Riverwalk Project, which is on track to become a reality in the near future.
he plan is to connect Windhoek from west to east through the rehabilitation of numerous river courses, starting from Goreangab Dam and leading along the main river system all the way to Avis Dam. The river trail will create development opportunities for the city along with organic social spaces and improved security. Citizens of Windhoek will soon be able to jog, cycle or walk in beautiful natural spaces that are currently deemed too dangerous to use.
networks and especially the public spaces. We do so to get Capetonians together, to congregate in public spaces and enjoy public spaces as a community. “It’s almost like a social-cohesion strategy because, as you know, our cities are separated because we come from an apartheid background. So cities have been designed for separation, meaning different groups of society don’t have the chance to get to know each other.” While mandated to revive spaces within the City of Cape Town, the spinoff has been social cohesion as well as economic expansion. “There is a very strong economic strategy, because when public spaces are created there is more buying power in terms of people wanting to enjoy the experience: people wanting to eat, people wanting to shop, etcetera. In the long run what we see is that by creating these public spaces, we are able to turn around the space for economic benefit.”
The Riverwalk Project in Windhoek aims to be a multi-layered urban spine that not only provides greater economic returns in the form of jobs and wealth creation, but also connects communities by providing spaces for social and recreational interaction through the city. Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana is an urban revivalist who has been instrumental in the development of economically thriving, creative public and private spaces in which to live, work and play in central Cape Town. As CEO of the Cape Town Partnership, she has experience not only in Cape Town, but in cities all over the world that have revamped their communal spaces to the benefit of communities and the economy. The City of Windhoek recently called upon her expertise to discuss concepts that could help create more social cohesion in Windhoek.
Bulelwa explains that revamping areas of Windhoek for more social cohesion does not require major capital expenditure. “People think all these things cost money. They don’t. You start small and let the partners, the collaborations, build up the project, the campaign or the movement. A good example is ‘First Thursdays’ in Cape Town. On the first Thursday of each month, galleries in the centre of town stay open in the evening, offering a free glass of wine to anyone who comes to visit them. The restaurants are open until late, the public spaces are animated with music and poetry. When it started, only a few restaurants were involved. Right now we have thirty- to forty-thousand people in town at that time. Restaurants have stopped taking bookings. Even tourists coming to town make sure they time their arrival on the first Thursday of the month because on that day, everyone becomes a Capetonian. Whether you speak German, French
“I see the Riverwalk in Windhoek as a catalytic project. I think there is an opportunity here to start opening dialogue,” says Bulelwa. Discussing the economic opportunities that lie in the spaces in and around our cities, Bulelwa says, “We work with the public sector, the private sector and civic society. Our main mandate is to manage the spaces in between the buildings. We don’t manage buildings themselves in the CBD of Cape Town. We manage the space in between: the roads, the
or Swahili, it doesn’t matter – you are in the centre of town and you love Cape Town. It’s dynamic, it’s black and white, it’s rich and poor – all enjoying the same public space. “To me there is no better example of what a public space can do, because living in an apartheid-built city means that the infrastructure has been designed to separate you. Even if you build bridges, hearts and minds are still left behind. What you need is to have face-to-face interaction, opportunities to observe, to participate, to feel part of the bigger home.” For more information about the Windhoek River Walk Project take a look at their Facebook page on https://www.facebook.com/RiverwalkWindhoek/ or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Even if you build bridges, hearts and minds are still left behind. What you need is to have face-to-face interaction, opportunities to observe, to participate, to feel part of the bigger home.” 91
A LEGACY OF CARING FOR COMMUNITIES
here are many positive ways in which individuals and corporations can work together to change our nation. One of the best examples of how this is being done in Namibia is found in the passion, approach and results achieved by the Pupkewitz Foundation.
As the CEO of the Pupkewitz Foundation, Meryl Barry continues to build upon her family’s commitment to others by overseeing the strategic disbursement of millions of Namibian dollars annually in projects that support Community Development, Education, Health, Sport, Environment and Culture and Civil Society. “I grew up in a household where people had a lot of empathy,” explains Meryl, the daughter of legendary Namibian businessman, Harold Pupkewitz, and Ethel Pupkewitz. “One of the focal points of Judaism is to be charitable. Giving uplifts your spirit and the spirits of people in whose names you give.” The ancient Jewish principles on the subject of Giving are highly applicable to modern thinking. “The Concept of Giving is well explained in Judaism, and represents a principle our family follows”, says Meryl. Noteworthy is the concept of anonymous giving; that neither giver nor recipient knows one another, representing the second highest level of giving. Interestingly, the highest level of giving is to give
a job, or business partnership, which allows the person to become selfsupporting. In the offices of the Pupkewitz Foundation, Meryl Barry and Elanza Van Wyk, the Foundation’s Administrator, speak of the many and vast projects that have received support from the Pupkewitz Foundation since it was established in 2002. Meryl’s passion for each project is evident as she shares the stories behind each project, and the successes and difficulties that had to be overcome to support each one. Elanza explains, “Mrs. Barry is very passionate about the work that we do and I think that is what drives the Foundation. I’ve learned a lot from her especially when it comes to the good things that we can do for this country.” The Pupkewitz Foundation has a large and growing development investment budget that provides support to projects across the regions that are as varied and critical as the nation’s growing needs. For example, where for many years the Foundation supported the renovations of schools, their involvement in support for education has grown to providing new school blocks. The donation of all-terrain Land Cruisers for rhino conservation and endangered species, has expanded to provide institutional capacity to the environmental lawyers of the
Legal Assistance Centre, as well as the Protected Resources Unit of the Namibian Police Service to investigate poaching and wild life crime and other cases. “The Foundation supports ninety-eight projects in total, over forty are major, and twenty-three have impact and all are projects are aimed at addressing social and economic disparities, as also respond to government’s development priorities,” notes Meryl. Included in the long list of projects supported by the Pupkewitz Foundation is one of the most impressive feeding schemes in Namibia, the Ethel Pupkewitz National Feeding Scheme. Established in 2015 in support of the City of Windhoek, as also to the Ministry of Gender, Equality and Child Welfare. As members of the Namibian Alliance for Improved Nutrition since 2011, chaired by the former Prime Minister, Nahas Angula, the Feeding Scheme supports early childhood development nutrition which is critical to not only each individual child, but in turn also provides capacity to the recent interministerial focus on the importance of Early Childhood Development.
big, so wherever we have a branch, that’s where we also have feeding schemes.” Like a well-oiled machine whose focus is on achieving its mandate, Pupkewitz staff members assist in a volunteer roster that is developed months in advance, which expands both the individual and the company’s commitment to surrounding communities. The success of this project is also evident in the numbers and the faces of the 3000 children who are provided with nutrition and care for the past three years. According to Elanza, “Mrs. Barry always finds a way, I think that’s what makes the Foundation so different. Every request that comes in is reviewed and given attention by Mrs Barry, to see if she can find a way to help.” Building on a legacy of caring and commitment to others, the Pupkewitz Foundation is an example to us all. “It’s very important that parents and learners become aware of nutrition. Carers and teachers have expressed the difference the provided nutrition is making to a child’s performance and attention span, states Meryl. By wisely using the national footprint of the Pupkewitz Group, staff volunteers, using high clearance vehicles of the Pupkewitz Group of Companies drive out weekly to deliver nutritious food to the various ECD
centres in towns where they have branches. The Pupkewitz Foundation has been able to ensure their feeding scheme is rolled out weekly, supplying boiled eggs, a glass of milk and a piece of fruit to over 3000 children aged 4 to 8 years. “We take advantage of some of the platforms that are available to us. One is that we have a motor industry, so we have access to vehicles. Our footprint around the country is quite
63-67 Lazarett Street, Windhoek Tel: 061 427082 email: email@example.com www.pupkewitz.com
Photo by: Nessy Hilifilwa At Oye Creative Studio
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING LOUX THE VINTAGE GURU “Internal auditor by trade, fashion designer by choice and dapper gentleman for life” is how Elle magazine has described international icon Loux the Vintage Guru. Elle goes on to say that “dapper may even be an understatement for the impeccably groomed, fastidiously outfitted Namibian.”
e’s Lourens Loux Gerbhardt, who is Loux the Vintage Guru, was born in Windhoek. His love of vintage suits got him noticed on Tampla and Instagram, which is where his following began.
also as a representative of Namibia, showing people that we can also look well-dressed in southern Africa. MYD: What do you love about suits? LLG: When you wear a suit, you get respected. You will go to an event, for example, and they greet you and immediately they tell you where the VIP section is. The way you look determines how people will address you. That’s why I love suits.
An accountant and auditor by day, the superstar stylist spends much of his time travelling the world to showcase his vintage style. To date he has featured internationally in Elle magazine, on CNN (where he was declared a star-style kingpin), and at the Mercedes Benz Africa Fashion Festival in Ghana, where he won the best male designer award.
MYD: You are an accountant and an auditor by day and a fashion designer by night. How do you juggle these two careers? LLG: I’ve become used to balancing it. Eight to five is strictly accounting and auditing. I simply don’t take fashion calls. I don’t speak fashion from eight to five, but the moment I leave my workplace until early in the morning, we can talk fashion. At some point I was working, doing the fashion and also studying at university. It’s all about being dedicated and determined.
MYD: Loux, you are a man who put himself out there, and the world responded. Tell us a little bit about your journey. How did you get to be known as Loux the Vintage Guru? LLG: It started when I went to Johannesburg for a course on internal auditing and my friends noticed how I was dressed. While I dress nicely, I don’t wear expensive clothes. They took me to a vintage market, the clothes were cheap, and I bought cheap suits there and then added some touches to make them a bit more sophisticated. I loved it, and that’s when I started wearing vintage. Then they said they were going to start calling me Loux the Vintage Guru – so that is how it transpired.
MYD: What are most passionate about? LLG: I am passionate about self-development and selfgrowth, in this world of today especially. I am focused on developing myself, especially academically. Having finished my degree in accounting, next year I am going to do my master’s. I believe in self-development and self-growth. Educate yourself so that you will be able to take care of yourself and your parents when they are old. I am passionate about growing, climbing the ladder of success.
MYD: Then it became a fashion statement and your Instagram account got you noticed all over the world. Tell us about that. LLG: My style is unique, so when I go to a party I always look different. I was interviewed by well-known fashion bloggers, Elle magazine, The Guardian newspaper and CNN, and my Instagram portfolio went viral.
MYD: What are you doing internationally in fashion? LLG: I stopped designing because of my day job. I work for a mining company – sometimes I work in Zambia, sometimes I work here, so I cannot supply consistently. Now I’m more into styling and wardrobe. When I was a designer, I went to Milan Fashion Week and the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival in Ghana. I went to
MYD: What was it like being acknowledged for your style on an international platform? LLG: I was very happy. First of all because my style is just my style – I didn’t know people would love it. It was a surprise to me. I was delighted, not only as an individual but
South Africa for fashion shows. It opened doors for me, earned me many followers and has opened up a lot of projects, especially styling and wardrobes for corporate companies. The best moment was going to Berlin Fashion Week, because thousands of people attend. People from all over the world come together. I was honoured to get a sponsorship from the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of Trade and Industry. It shows that Government sees what we as young adults are doing. MYD: Loux, what would your recommendation be to us, when talking personal style? LLG: Style depends on a person’s perspective but what I will suggest is that, especially here in Namibia, you don’t need to wear Calvin Klein or Gucci. You don’t have to wear expensive clothes to look dapper. People can wear brands from head to toe and then they think they look nice, but it doesn’t work like that. You can go to Pep, you can go to Jet, you can go to Mr Price – what is imperative is how you put your clothes together. Save your money, leave the expensive brands, go get yourself something cheap. It’s how you put it together that’s important. Know your body type, know your style and if you are a bit unsure, Google is there. Go and google what you want, how you want to look, and then just play around. Be unique, be yourself and ensure that the clothes are sitting perfectly on your body. MYD: Who inspires you? LLG: My grandfather and my father. These guys wore suits every day.
“I believe in selfdevelopment and self-growth. Educate yourself so that you will be able to take care of yourself and your parents when they are old. I am passionate about growing, climbing the ladder of success.”
Photo by: Nessy Hilifilwa At Oye Creative Studio
MYD: Do you have any message that you would like to share with Namibia? LLG: My message to the youth is: please study very hard. Get a good job. Take care of yourself and take care of your parents because they are the ones that brought us to where we are now. Let’s try and build this country in all the different sectors.
This is not a brick This is the beginning of hope. The promise of shelter, warmth and safety. This is your chance to contribute to a better Namibia.
The Standard Bank Buy-a-Brick initiative contributes funds to the Shack Dwellers Federation of Namibia in order to provide brick homes for thousands of low- to no-income Namibians, and erase shacks from the country. You can donate with just N$5. Send a Direct Deposit to Standard Bank Buy a Brick, Acc. No.: 60001469613.
AN IDEA TO THINK ABOUT NAMIBIA’S CREATIVE ADVANTAGE “All ideas arise when someone combines the knowledge and information they already have to come up with something new,” says Fredrik Härén, author and speaker on the topic of business creativity.
redrik is the author of nine books including The Idea Book, which was included in The 100 Best Business Books of All Time by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten.
When asked about creativity on an individual level, Fredrik explains: “Everyone is creative. A lot of what I do is unlocking creativity in people, in companies. If you don’t think you can do something, you don’t try. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Creativity is a practice – you just need to get going.”
Fredrick visited Namibia in 2017 to speak on ‘Creativity and New Thinking’ at the Professional Speakers Association of Namibia’s summer conference. While he was here, he spoke to 99FM MYD about how Namibians have a creativity advantage.
As for a company’s responsibility to unlock the creativity in its people, Fredrik adds: “I have asked hundreds of thousands of people if they think their company is doing enough to develop their creativity. Two per cent say yes, and ninetyeight per cent say no. But when you ask people if they themselves are doing enough to develop their creativity, two per cent say yes and ninety-eight per cent say no. So while people complain their company doesn’t encourage creativity, they don’t encourage their own creativity either. It is easy to blame companies, governments and schools for not doing enough to grow creativity. But what are you doing to develop your own creativity? This should be a life skill that you are in charge of yourself.
“Creativity is the ability to combine things that you know in a way that you haven’t seen before, which means you need a lot of knowledge and information. It is taking old things and combining them with new things. Then you need to practise this skill, because just having a lot of knowledge doesn’t make you creative. “I have been studying creativity for twenty years. For the last ten years, I’ve been living in developing countries and have travelled to eighteen developing countries to really understand what is different between the developed and the developing world in terms of creativity. The differences are huge, and I have found that there are advantages to living in a developing country when it comes to being creative.
According to Fredrik, schools are not generally the place where creativity is awoken. “Creative people go to the same schools as everyone else. It’s not the school that triggers creativity – it’s usually the parents who trigger creativity in a child. So allow your child to come up with ideas. When they ask a question, do not give the answer immediately. Ask them what they think the answer is. Even if it is a strange answer, this is about teaching them to generate ideas. Creativity is asking questions and also finding answers.
“I think that in Namibia you have an advantage. You have the advantage of many different cultures in one place, and by using the best of each culture, you create new ways. That’s exactly what creativity is.
“A lot of people, in looking for new solutions, will come up with two or three ideas and then stop. Very rarely do we come up with ten ideas and extremely rarely do we come up with fifty ideas. If you come up with fifty ideas, a lot won’t be useful, but some will be completely new and unlike what someone else is already doing.”
“If you live in a monoculture where everyone does the same thing the same way, it’s very difficult to imagine a new way of doing things. Here, with all the different cultures in one country, it’s easy to see and learn from one another to find better ways of doing things.”
LEISURE ECONOMIES MEAN BUSINESS INFORMAL ENTERPRISE IN NAMIBIA The leisure economy revolves around people’s social activities, and the term is often linked with city high streets lined with bars, cafés and restaurants that have the transformative potential to become a leisure destination. But a leisure economy in the informal sector has also emerged to become its own thriving economy.
range of secondary businesses form part of the township leisure economy as well: restaurants, street food vendors, entertainers and musicians, car guards, and hair salons, for example,” says to Caitlin Tonkin, a researcher for the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation, whose research was centered on the transformative possibilities of the township leisure economy. “Yet leisure economies in townships have been viewed as leading to a range of social ills, particularly where alcohol is involved, and thus have been restricted through particular policy approaches and legislation.
and 2016, the number of businesses along Eveline Street has doubled from 133 to 270 businesses, indicating a clear growth of economic activity along the street. Part of this has been an increase in the number of bars, from 61 to 80 bars, yet as a proportion of all enterprises on the street, bars decreased from 45% to 29%. “Hair salons, house shops, print shops, food takeaways and vehicle services, many not present on Eveline Street in 2008, now take up a 37% share of the overall economy of the street. The greater range of businesses now operating along Eveline Street indicates not only an increase in economic activity, but a diversification and maturation of the street’s economy.
“The township leisure economy is not seen as having the same potential to economically, socially or spatially transform township high streets as inner-city leisure economies do,” she says.
“In addition to using this research to better inform economic-development policies, our hope is that this research will stimulate a broader societal reimagining of the transformative potential of the leisure economy in township contexts. Pervasive and negative perceptions of the informal leisure economy and of informality more broadly becomes part of the rationale for a social and political system that supports systemic economic exclusion. Changing attitudes towards informality can be part of changing this system.
But in Eveline Street in Katutura, Windhoek, perceptions could be changing. “Eveline Street was the first street in Katutura to be classified as a business corridor. This change in land use has encouraged entrepreneurs to invest in businesses, has enabled leisure-oriented enterprises to obtain licences, and has formalised and attracted new enterprises to the high street.
“The informal economy is thus a hugely important space for employment and job creation. A more developmentdriven and supportive approach to the informal economy could result in its overall growth, improve the quality of jobs and working conditions in that economy, and facilitate formalisation of informal micro-enterprises. This would bring about greater opportunity, security and sustainability for people whose livelihoods depend on the informal economy.”
“The central aim of our research was to understand the scope, scale and interconnections between micro-enterprises along Eveline Street and the influence of the high street in economic ordering and business opportunities.” Collecting data, the team from the Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation learnt about business offerings as well as the business linkages to other enterprises along Eveline Street.
Leisure economies certianly do mean business.
“Our research uncovered both economic growth and economic diversification along Eveline Street. Between 2008
AB INBEV NAMIBIA TALKS WATER CONSERVATION Corporate giant AB InBev’s commitment to the social and environmental sustainability in the countries where they operate is evident in the execution of their Better World Sustainable Development strategy, which is applied with same amount of urgency and effort that they put into their business operations. AB InBev Namibia’s Legal and Corporate Affairs Manager, Maija-Lisa Hangala explains: “Our strategy is built on three pillars - Healthier World, Cleaner World and Growing World. For each of these pillars, there are specific projects that we concentrate on. With water becoming scarce in much of the world, water management was identified as a major priority under the pillar, a ‘Cleaner World.’ Our brewery in Okahandja primarily operates on recycled water, where we try to bring as much of the water that we use back into the plant. We are also assisting the Okahandja municipality to better manage their water system. AB InBev Namibia partnered on a project with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry
to assist the ministry on saving and managing the water situation in Namibia, through our My Water, My Future, Our Namibia Campaign. After the water crisis was declared in Namibia, we did our research and found that Government is one of the biggest water users in the country, so we began a programme called My Water, My Future, Our Namibia, appointing people within each Government institution (known as Water Marshalls) who are responsible for Water Demand Management. The impact has been overwhelmingly positive.” Heibeb, Chief Engineering Technician for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, who was appointed by his Director to be a Water Marshall, explains the impact of the programme: “We had a workshop on how to conduct water saving measurements. We were mandated to take water readings every day, to stop any leakages and to report what we could not fix. We started off by investigating all the toilets and we found a lot that were leaking. We bought
Maija-Lisa Hangala LEGAL AND CORPORATE AFFAIRS MANAGER
mechanisms, and together with the Works Inspectors, started to fix all the leakages. We also put our contact details on notice boards so that people can alert us if there are leakages. At first we only had a bulk reading, which made it very difficult for us to trace high water consumption. So we installed one water meter in each block from where we were taking readings. On average, every person at the office should use 20 litres per day, and after we were able to compare water usage per block, we immediately saw a significant drop in water usage. My message to my fellow City of Windhoek residents is: Let’s save water where possible. For now we are privileged to get water in our homes, but there might come a time that we will have to collect water at one central point, or if we have no water at all that will be a disaster. Water is our life and it is our Namibia.”
PIETAN PARK (UNIT 13) REGEN STREET, SOUTHERN INDUSTRIAL AREA WINDHOEK NAMIBIA
RAISING THE OWELA GAME ARON HAMUKWAYA Aron Hamukwaya is managing director of the National Software Engineering Academy (NSEA), where Namibians can study information technology at tertiary level. He started the academy after studying information science and computer engineering in Russia.
ron developed the traditional Oshiwambo game of Owela into a digital format to protect the game for future generations. In 2015, his fusion of tradition and innovation earned him and his team an Innovation Award from the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology (NCRST). We spoke to him in 2016.
I managed to start the institution, the National Software Engineering Academy. MYD: Amazing that you started this company. Tell us about it. AH: We offer courses in software engineering, in IT. We also diversified recently and are now offering courses in business administration and management, as well as human resources and education.
MYD: We are delighted to have you join us, Aron, to talk about keeping traditions alive through digitising traditional practices. But first, tell us a bit about yourself. AH: I grew up in the village in the north, and went to the University of Namibia. My dream was to study engineering, but in my first year at UNAM I was introduced to a subject that teaches you how a computer thinks, and I decided to specialise in computers. I enjoyed it very much and realised that this is what I love. I was already thinking about computerising our traditional games then, and I wanted to do it so badly. I started asking my seniors, but that wasn’t their speciality. So I decided to study software engineering. I applied for a scholarship through the Ministry of Education and was lucky to get the scholarship to study information science and computer engineering in Russia.
MYD: It’s incredible that you took the learning of your studies and created a space for others to learn. Where services weren’t here, you created the solution. You followed your dreams and now traditional games are available in a digital format. Tell us about how you digitised Owela. AH: Owela is a traditional game. I’ve been playing this game since I was very young, and since university I imagined how one could do this on a computer. I managed to create it in 2012 and a lot of people were so interested, they wanted to buy the game. But I felt it was not the right time. In the end we created a platform, the Owela Touch Table, which allows people to play in the same manner that they used to play long ago on the ground and in the sand. With the touch table, people come together and play on one platform.
MYD: What was it like living in Russia, coming from a warm environment to an icy-cold environment? AH: I was not worried about the conditions – maybe it was because I was so focused on what I really wanted to do. At the end of my first year I created one game, then in my second year I created another. Because of this, I ended up getting a part-time job working as a game developer in Russia. That gave me a lot of experience and exposure. When I finished my degree I was offered a job in South Africa, but I turned it down because I wanted to come back and pursue my dream in Namibia. When I came back it was very tough because I didn’t have money and many people did not understand what I really wanted to do. I had to push through, but with God’s help
MYD: That’s incredible. Why did you want to digitise traditional games? AH: I feel that we need to preserve our traditional values, we need to be able to carry them forward to the next generation, and traditions are at risk of becoming extinct because they are not digitised. With technology moving forward so fast, people are moving away from the traditional way of doing things, so there was a need for us to move traditional games along as well. MYD: What sort of response have you had with your game?
AH: We promoted the game with the help of the NCRST. They funded our game last year , that’s when we won the Innovation Award and we were able to make our dream come true. So now the Owela Game is on a touch table, which allows people to insert coins and companies to advertise on the platform so that they can get exposure. We also have people who are interested in buying the game, because it’s a game that’s played by all the tribes in Namibia. MYD: Is that the purpose of the game, to bring people together? AH: Yes, that’s the purpose of the game. It’s almost like chess. Some people call it the African chess. MYD: Aron, where do you find your drive? AH: I find my drive to keep going in God. God is my helper. Now, as I speak, I really have been through a lot of problems to get to where we are right now, but He always sees us through. He always delivers us from problems. MYD: Is there a message that you would like to share with Namibia? AH: I want to say that we should work hard rather than always looking to the government to do something for us, rather than waiting for our parents to do something for us or to show us the way. Look around, do something. We have opportunities, a lot of opportunities. Look around you. That service that you don’t like – you can improve it yourself, you can turn it into something that can bring you wealth. So look around you.
“I feel that we need to preserve our traditional values, we need to be able to carry them forward to the next generation, and traditions are at risk of becoming extinct because they are not digitised. With technology moving” forward so fast, people are moving away from the traditional way of doing things, so there was a need for us to move traditional games along as well.” 105
REINVENTING THE POTTERY WHEEL ISAI AINDONGO Part of the first intake of students for Ceramics Studies at the University of Namibia, which began in 2013, Isai Aindongo is now an art teacher at St Barnabus Primary School and the Katutura Community Art Centre.
is artistic talents in mixed media, painting and sculpture have taken him to represent Namibia at an exhibition in Marseille, France, and broken stereotypes here at home.
work with clay. But I tried. I put these thoughts aside and enrolled as a student. Nothing happened to me, other than me enjoying it. I feel like a pioneer. I can’t even explain the feeling – I am so happy to see myself at a level I never dreamed of.”
“I like the feeling of clay, and it has such an interesting history, but for me to study ceramics was not an easy thing,” says Isai. “I was nervous when I entered the studio for the first time. My grandmother was a great clay-pot maker, but in the Oshiwambo culture it is taboo for a man to make clay pots.
Far from being judgemental, Isai’s family have been a critical part of his success. “My parents are very proud and continue to encourage me in what I’m doing. There was a time I was seriously considering pursuing other things and forgetting about my talents, but they didn’t let me. They encouraged me to continue and to further my studies.”
“I didn’t know that I would be able to express myself so well using clay because of the beliefs that a man cannot
amibians are nature lovers by nature. It’s all about the call of the wild, the pull towards spaces where you can breathe and move and be, away from noise and traffic and intrusions. But as more people flock to the cities and crime rates rise, solitary hikes or cycles in the veld have become increasingly risky.
“There was increased crime in Windhoek and we thought that the trails were a way for IJG to give back to the community,” says Mark Späth, Group Managing Director of IJG Holdings. For the past three years, IJG, a bespoke financial solutions company, has sponsored the IJG Trails, a secure, regulated outdoor sanctuary on Farm Windhoek. “I think being active, especially in nature, is essential. If you are fit and healthy you are more proactive and productive at work.
“Farm Windhoek is a tract of land to the south of Windhoek that sits on top of the aquifer, so effectively nothing can be developed there. Due to the close proximity to Windhoek, livestock poaching is a huge problem. This resulted in the idea to allow cyclists to use the trails on the land, because with more people around there would hopefully be less poaching. “Initially the concept was to cater to the mountain-biking community, but there was also a demand for a safe place in nature where people can go birdwatching, take their dogs for a walk, or go trail running. With more activities, including a planned two-kilometre walking path, the farm is becoming a community-friendly space. “Farm Windhoek Fitness has set up an outdoor gym on the farm and they want to go a step further by actually creating a trail-run series on IJG Trails. More schools are now using the trails for mountain biking and other outdoor activities. There are hundreds of routes, so cyclists can do different
routes all the time. Anybody can go to the IJG Trails, so if you need to escape the city and get moving out in the bush, IJG Trails is there for you.” Peter van der Merwe heartily confirms the positive effect that IJG’s involvement has had on the farm. “Over the two years since IJG became involved as a sponsor, there have hardly been any crime incidents on the farm. We have 17 people on the project primarily working on security, including ex-special force consultants and 11 security guards. My wife and I are both engineers, so we also make sure that the trail building and other physical developments are soil preserving and environmentally friendly.” These passionate trailblazers have many plans to make sure that it remains a jungle out there, for all of us. Watch this green space ...
MAHANGU COOKIE REVOLUTION RACHEL KALIPI’S Business-savvy Rachel Kalipi is an entrepreneur in the truest sense of the word. An accountant by profession who holds a full-time job, her approach to business shows the commercial potential of young Namibian women.
achel’s entrepreneurial spirit was stirred in Oranjemund when she took over the catering contract for the town. This meant she was in charge of feeding over 1 500 people every day.
the final product, which we took to market. And the new and improved product was very well received. “I set up a milling plant in the north, as it is important for me that the cookies taste the same whether you eat them today or tomorrow. So, by processing our own mahangu we can guarantee that our product stays the same – we control the value chain and maintain the consistency of the product. So now I buy my mahangu from women in the village, and then we process it at our milling plant.
“I wanted us to buy as many of our supplies as possible from local sources, but our buyers couldn’t find many products. That’s when I saw first-hand the shortage we have in Namibia of basic things,” says Rachel, who is also a keen gardener and who makes all her own jams and vegetable preserves.
“It’s not as easy as people think – you don’t just walk into a business and start making money. We have been operating for eleven months now and we have not yet broken even. Generally, I find that my fellow young people rather want to go for tenders, because it’s once off and you get your money. I don’t believe in that. I believe in building wealth over a long time. In the first few years, I might not make money, but I know if a business has potential.
“Cookies were just the opportunity that I saw in the market, but my bigger dream is to build a food industry,” Rachel explains. The Mahangu Cookie product was initially an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, who wanted to develop value-addition products for mahangu. Those interested were invited to partner with the ministry to bring the products to market. However, in its first incarnation, Mahangu Cookies took a turn for the worse. Rachel attributes this to too-small sales volumes. “In this business you need volumes to just break even,” says Rachel.
“When you speak to entrepreneurs they will tell you that finances are their main problem, but I think sometimes we are just not creative enough in terms of how we think to finance our businesses. When I started this business, I didn’t take out a loan. Instead, I pitched my idea to my friends and family, something like crowdfunding, to buy the first print run on my packaging. It’s about thinking differently.”
“I heard about the Mahangu Cookies project and contacted the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry to find out what had happened. After they told me that the product failed, I applied to revive it.” Since then, Rachel has brought the Mahangu Cookies brand back to life. “I had a look at the product and I spoke to the people who had worked with Mahangu Cookies before to find out what I could learn from their experience. We spent about four months just doing product development. I was very cautious with added sugar, for example. It’s a gluten-free product and we don’t add any preservatives at all. It’s a very natural process. “Sixty per cent of Namibians eat mahangu as part of their staple food. After doing extensive testing, we came up with
“Entrepreneurs will tell you that finances are their main problem, but I think we are not creative in terms of how we finance our businesses.” 109
DIGGING FOR DIAMONDS IS A WOMAN’S JOB
IIn Namibia, where 52% of the population is women and we have 46% female representation in the national assembly, the statistic of only 21% female employment in the Namibian mining industry called for action. This call was wholeheartedly answered by B2Gold and other large players in the industry through their support for the first Leadership Development for Women in Mining Conference, held in April 2017 and spearheaded by the Deputy Minister of Mines and Energy, Kornelia Shilunga. During this conference, the Women in Mining Association for Namibia was conceptualised and a group of exceptional women were tasked with setting up the association. On 10 November 2017, WiMAN was officially launched with endorsements from the Ministry of Mines and Energy, the Chamber of Mines and WiMInternational. For Zenzi Awases, the conference was a watershed moment: “When I arrived at the conference, I was probably one of the most demotivated ones there. I was at the lowest point in my career, having just
witnessed how a male colleague who started at the same time as me, had catapulted way past me. That really pushed me back. “I remember telling the ladies, ‘I’m gracefully bowing out. I’m tired of leaning in.’ I have a six-year-old daughter, Malika, and I even said that I would discourage her from entering any male-dominated industry. “There are some women who’ve made it through to senior management and I think there’s one female executive director in the entire mining industry. That’s one out of 39 executive directors. We’ve realised that we are passionate about our industry, we’ve made the right choice, but as women there are things that are frustrating, and together we can create change. “I’ve realised that somebody has to pave the way. It is really a pioneering movement that I’m very proud to be a part of.” The association’s main objective is to create a platform for collective reflection on and consensus building of women’s concerns in the industry. Its focus on gender diversity and
inclusion is supported by B2Gold Namibia, Namdeb, Dundee Precious Metals, Skorpion Zinc, Vedanta, Debmarine and the Chamber of Mines. The push for more women in the mining industry isn’t just fairness or equality; it’s a necessity in an industry that struggles with inclusivity. There is a need for women to be recognised in leadership and management roles within the mining industry, and also to ensure that mining companies within the country create a conducive working environment and opportunities for growth for women. The purpose of WiMAN is to address these issues with one voice and to bring awareness of inclusivity into the workplace so that differences are valued – not simply tolerated or accepted. WiMAN’s Constitution sets out its vision, which is to attract more females to the mining sector and assist them to reach their full potential, with specific objectives to create an empowering network that will inspire, support and develop the advancement of women working
“My first assignment was to look for a remnant deposit in the northern areas of the Namdeb concession. It’s a remote little spot between Lüderitz and Oranjemund. I arrived at the campsite and there were 20 men; I was the only woman there. The men were upset. “Initially, men feel that we are not capable of being in ‘their’ industry. It’s still a man’s world, but not for long. Perhaps they feel threatened, but what I’ve learnt is that if you include the men in your journey, they actually realise you’re not that bad. We bring a different perspective into the industry. We need one another to make this thing work. “At the end of my two-year stint in the desert, I had built amazing bonds with these men. They taught me how to drive a bakkie in the dunes, how to change a tyre and get out of a dangerous situation, while I taught them things that they would never have thought about if I wasn’t there. in the mining industry through providing access to education, skills development, mentorship and representation; to provide a consultative forum for their members; to provide advice on what companies can do to increase the number of young females in the industry – specifically in the technical fields; to provide mentoring and coaching platforms for women in the industry; and to work with mining companies to ensure a conducive work environment for women. “A representative of each mining house was invited to help establish the committee. Our executive committee consists of very talented, very ambitious ladies, including the first–ever female mineral resource manager in Namibia as well as the only lady who is an executive director in Namibia. I was elected to lead the association,” says Zenzi. The association’s executive committee is comprised of these outstanding women: Zenzi Awases (President) Cindy Cloete (Secretary) Nora Ndopu (Public Relations) Charlot Williams (General Counsel)
Sheron Kavitua (Technical Member) Barcelona Plaatjies (Human Capital) Foibe Uahengo (Treasurer) Zenzi’s journey from geology student to one of the most powerful woman in the male–dominated mining sector is a case study in how to encourage and develop the role of women in the mining industry: “In my second year of studying geology, I started to wonder what I had gotten myself into, because evidently this thing was going to take me out into the field and I actually wanted to work with people. “I wrote to the then exploration manager of Namdeb and asked if I could shadow a geologist for a day or two, to make sure that I was doing the right thing–because it’s four years of studying, so it’s not a joke. “I was very surprised when he responded positively, inviting me to shadow a geologist in Oranjemund for a week. At the end of that week, I applied for a bursary and said, ‘I’m going to do this, I can do this.’ It’s not actually just about rocks – you do work with people.
“It’s important to remember why you got into the industry in the first place. I want to be in a field that I’m passionate about. I’m an exploration geologist, so you take an area from barren, as in it’s never been touched before, to being a productive mine. “Now, I know that it will be fantastic for the economy, I know diamonds will come out of that area, so when I come across little discomforts like a man who wants to push me out of the way, I’m like, ‘No, no, no, dear, I’m here to do a job.’”
B2Gold Namibia (Pty) Ltd. 20 Nachtigal Street, Ausspannplatz PO Box 80363, Olympia Windhoek Tel: +264 61 295 8700 Fax: +264 61 295 8799 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
FROM DUST TO DISH RISTO IITA Have you ever imagined the potential of the soil around us? Risto Iita has. Looking at common materials in a different way, the University of Namibia Visual Arts graduate has collected soil samples from all over Namibia to see what pottery and ceramics can be made from our soil.
isto was inspired by his teacher, UNAM lecturer Frauke Stegmann, who shares some fascinating traditional ceramic history: “There is a 2000-year-old tradition of making clay pots in Africa, a practice that unifies Africa. We teach this African identity in the ceramics course. This is true in Namibia, where the practice has been in existence in the north for 2000 years. There is a tiny Khoisan pot that was made using pottery methods from East Africa that dates that far back. It was used for ritual purposes and not utilitarian purposes.”
“An amazing thing about soil from the north is that it’s very light sensitive, and it needs to be stored in total darkness while you are making it. When I interviewed women up north, they said that the soil does not need light because it’s alive. It is very sensitive. So I thought, ‘Wow, I’d like to see for myself.’ And they were right.” Now that he’s successfully tested the soil, Risto has a dream. “Imagine if one day I can supply UNAM with clay? The clay they currently buy is from South Africa, and it’s a refined clay, so it would be smart to produce our own clay here. Our soil is good for clay and the colours are amazing.”
“In ceramics, you often only think about the utilitarian aspect: bowls, things you use in the kitchen, for example. Our Ceramics Studies graduates developed very conceptual and more installation-based items, which is very interesting.” In an exhibition for the 2016 UNAM Visual Arts graduates, Risto demonstrated his thought process and his plan for the future. “For me, art is in me – it’s my life. For my project, I was interested in soils because I was reading a book by Paul van Schalkwyk, the Namibian photographer who took aerial shots of the dunes meeting the ocean, the rivers meeting the sea, Etosha and other beautiful parts of Namibia. The colours were amazing. Earth, where we live, is the best place in the solar system and it’s where we belong. Then I thought about taking Namibian soil and trying to use it to make clay. “I collected soil from the Omusati Region around the Otapi area, the Okahao area, then Oshakati and also five kilometres outside Oshakati, from an village where almost every house has women making clay pots. I even collected soil from Gobabis, and I got some from a riverbed and from termite heaps.” Risto took his soil samples and made them into clay, which he then made into various ceramic items, some with varnish and some without, to test what would happen. The results are amazing, and were on display at the graduate exhibition, which was held at the National Art Gallery of Namibia.
“Imagine if one day I can supply UNAM with clay? The clay they currently buy is from South Africa, and it’s a refined clay, so it would be smart to produce our own clay here. Our soil is good for clay and the colours are amazing.” 113
ART IMITATES URBAN LIFE JOHN KALUNDA John Kalunda is a Namibian artist who is not only making a living off his art, but also contributing to the narrative of our social identity.
orn in Kavango East in Northern Namibia, John held his first solo exhibition in 2016. ‘Urban Identity’ is a collection of artworks that represent life in urban and rural areas.
of the people who are living there. The suffering, the discontent and the disparities that we have in our society – he puts this on the canvas so that we can feel it with him. “Through his artworks he helps us see his world and the world of so many other Namibians,” says Elize. Through his work, John sends a message that compels us to stop and think about what being urban means in the world we live in today.
John approaches his work by first spending time observing an environment and the people in it before interpreting what he has absorbed onto the canvas. His first solo exhibition held significance because it portrays the emotional landscape of people in Namibia and their relationship with the concept of urban life. It is this depth of experience that his art captures. “Art expresses who we are; my art expresses who I am,” John says.
While a lack of support for the arts has made life hard for many artists in Namibia, things are starting to turn around – and just in time. According to Elize, “We know there is a boom in Africa in the arts. We get news from international sources telling us that Western markets are so ready for African art. So we need to gear up and be prepared.”
John used found objects such as discarded tin and plastic, and natural objects such as sand and grass, together with paint to create his pieces, making his artwork not only representative of his environment but actually made of elements of his environment. Elize van Huyssteen, curator of the Arts Association Heritage Trust, said: “This exhibition is very important because it gives a subtle sense of our social commentary. John speaks of ‘Urban Identity’ and for me there is an irony in it, because for him this is urban life but for many other people the word ‘urban’ has a totally different meaning. Many Namibians, John included, do not have the means to live in what other Namibians consider ‘urban’. This is their reality, an honest portrayal of their daily lives.” John’s determination is palpable amongst those who work with him, and he speaks with pride about his work: “I am living off my art. I don’t have a sponsor but I am still able to go to school, put bread on the table and fully support myself with my art.” He teaches art in addition to producing beautiful works, all while studying Visual Arts at the University of Namibia. According to Elize, “John identifies very strongly with these images. He loves the place that he comes from but he has also told me that these images are the emotional landscapes
John understands the difficulties and rewards of hard work: “I feel so proud, it was not easy to make this day happen. It was a long journey to get here because we artists have to work extra hard.” In the meantime, his message to other budding Namibian artists is to “never give up but also to make sure that what you are making is quality. It will be there forever. My artworks speak about our environment. But even if this environment changes in the future, through art, people in the future will know about the past.”
“My artworks speak about our environment. But even if this environment changes in the future, through art, people in the future will know about the past.” 114
MYEISHA, THE ONE WHO IS LOVED MOST...
amibian Kym Kibble and German Sandra Baumeister have a deep friendship that is stitched in time, and now also in fabric and leather. Their company Myeisha, produces premium designer handbags in Namibia and is fuelled by a social entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to make a difference.
After several years of working on charitable projects in South Africa, Mozambique and Angola, Sandra decided that Africa was her destiny, and her friendship with Kym lead her to Namibia. “I couldn’t find a project here that felt 100% right, so I considered starting my own project. Kym said if I did, she’d be. I thought, ‘Oh great, this is somebody from the country, who understands it and is someone I trust,’ remembers Sandra. “Kym is the godmother of my daughter Myeisha, whose name means ‘the one who is loved the most’, so we decided that it would be the name of our brand.”
Starting with a few industrial sewing machines and desire to use them, their handbag business was born. Myeisha produces high-end leather bags for the national and export – they launched the brand in Stuttgart and Berlin. “We create bags that are valued by the people who buy them because they are beautiful and unique. They are produced to a standard that can compete with international fashion brands.” A second brand, iNAMi, caters to the local market and is more African in design. Added value also comes from Myeisha’s employees, who were unskilled and unemployed before receiving on-the-job training at Myeisha, and also a strong sense of pride in their work. To share the benefits of Myesiha with the broader community, Sandra and Kym set up a trust called “Especially Namibian” that supports a kindergarten in Katutura with food and other necessities.
“I think we have a responsibility to give back. Not because we want recognition, but because privilege comes with a responsibility,” shares Sandra. “It’s not just about feeding – it’s more about giving an orphan an opportunity,’ adds Kym. Seeing this dream become a reality has been rewarding, but giving our 13 employees a reason for being here makes it meaningful.” “If you wear a Myeisha or iNAMi bag, you should be proud because it’s a beautiful, valuable product and you are helping to create value for vulnerable people in the community,” shares Sandra, perfectly encapsulating the dreams of two old friends to make a difference.
Tel: +264 81 202 8916 email@example.com www.myeishanamibia.com
We want to be the leather tie that lovingly binds unique material worth with ethical values of appreciation and betterment for a life of true value.
STORIES OF STRUCTURES ELKE LE ROUX Already highly sought after for commissioned work and with two successful exhibitions in Namibia under her belt, Elke le Roux is proof that the key to success is finding what you love and then doing it.
lke pursued her love of the arts by studying Fine Arts with honours at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. From there she went on to study architecture at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, which was when her specific artistic style was born. “My fascination with old historical buildings and industrial structures originated during my architectural studies in Port Elizabeth,” says Elke.
for NamPost, and a concept by Rolf Hansen from the Cancer Association of Namibia that form her next exhibition. “Art is a brilliant way to let your brain breathe. In our everyday lives, people are so busy they hardly get time to spend by themselves. If they have five minutes in a day, they spend it in front of the television. This leaves no time for just thinking of nothing and being by yourself and capturing and organising your thoughts. I can feel it within myself. Art makes me feel much calmer.”
Her style reveals a marriage of architecture and art. While it was architecture that brought Elke to Namibia, art is in her blood: “Art is my calling; it’s what wakes me up in the morning.” Elke refers to architecture as a holistic take on art; it is where the elements used in art are applied scientifically. This approach was the basis for Elke’s first solo exhibition, ‘Time Machines’. She refers to some of her depictions of structures from her second solo exhibition, ‘Rising Giants’, as characters whose stories need to be told. “Buildings intrigue me. They are giants living among us, each with their own story to tell: how they came to be, how they developed and rose to be the giants they are, including the vital stages in the construction process that usually gets forgotten forever, yet which matters as much as what the buildings look like today.” Balancing her art and her architecture in life and on the canvas, Elke says: “I still work at an architecture firm for three full days a week, and then the rest of the week is for my art. I’ve seen art and architecture work together in great ways, like recently when I did two large murals that were punctured into aluminum screens for the President Terminal Building at Eros Airport. It’s nice to see architectural elements being used as the medium to produce art.” Elke has many exciting projects in the pipeline, including a collection of stamps on trains and stations around Namibia
“Art is a brilliant way to let your brain breathe.” 117
CALL OF THE WILD
icole Louw is a bush spirit. Her entire being seems to have sprung from the soil itself. She speaks an ancient language of the earth, one that is learnt from wind and sand and grass and animals. In a world driven by technology and hyperconnectivity, B2Gold employed Nicole to impart her knowledge of the wilderness and our connection to the land and life it supports to students visiting B2Gold’s Education Centre located on the Otjikoto Nature Reserve.
“Wilderness survival and tracking was always an interest for me. I was basically ‘grown’ outdoors in Namibia. My parents hiked and travelled a lot. I always enjoyed it, but I hated carrying bags and all the equipment and stuff. “I used to play survival out in the bush and when I was in high school I read a book by the American tracker Tom Brown Jr called Grandfather, which is about the wilderness survival and tracking skills he learnt from his Apache grandfather. It fascinated me. “I started researching Tom Brown’s Tracker School in New Jersey and a couple of years after matric I went there to train. That’s where Tom Brown was raised, so I wanted to see all the spots that are in the books. “It was quite an experience. You’re out in the woods with next to nothing. By the second week, you have to build your own shelter and make your own
tools with which to eat. They provide food, but you are taught how to forage, how to set traps and snares, and how to track. “When I came back, I started practising these skills in the Namibian environment. I actually had no thought about teaching, but friends of my parents asked if I could take their kids for a little excursion in the bush. I did that and I enjoyed it, so I did it more often and now I run a school in Windhoek called Earth Rhythms, and I work for B2Gold at their Education Centre, training school groups on wilderness survival. “We usually start with fire making; that’s always a fun one for the kids. Sometimes I provide the fire kits, but other times, if I can see these kids are very enthusiastic and prepared to work, I have them make their own kits. It all depends on the group and it depends how long they are there. One group was there for quite a while and we ended up building a shelter, where one of the kids spent the night, despite the rain and the thunder, because it was waterproof, so I was very proud.
“I read the group to see what I’m going to do with them. Sometimes it is building a fire, and sometimes it is blindfold work. They have to go through the bush at night blindfolded. It raises their level of awareness, because we use our eyes so much and yet our other senses are just as powerful. If you’re blindfolded, the other senses pick up again and you tend to understand things around you a lot more, because now you listen, and the moment you walk into a shadow, you can feel it. You don’t see it, but you feel it. “You can hear how the sound travels as you walk and you can hear a cricket stop as you come closer to it. After a while it becomes very quiet, but you can hear where the other people are just from the sound of crickets. This brings you closer to nature again. “Wherever we go there’s either concrete, plastic or carpets or something. We don’t have that connection with nature any more and because of that nature becomes a very scary place. And if nature is a scary place, where’s the drive to actually protect it?
“I’m very worried about whether the next generation will look after nature, because they live on smartphones, they live in buildings, with computers and all of that. Where are they going to gain a respect for nature? “As you learn these skills, nature becomes home. Genetically we all know how to survive. If you take a little kid and leave him out in the bush, it’s amazing how he’ll work things out. The older people not so much, because we tend to lose the instinct over time. Even kids who live in cities, play outside with sheets, making tents. It’s in our genes and we have to encourage that. “One of the most powerful experiences of my training was shared with me by the mother of a former student who had learnt basic shelter and fire making. The family moved to Europe and I didn’t see them again, but months later the mother sent me an email saying that she wanted to thank me for the skills that I had taught their son. The family was in Norway and they’d got caught in a blizzard. They couldn’t drive any further because they couldn’t see anything and the mother was convinced that they would die there in the car. They were near a forest and the boy, who was then about 14, said, ‘Let’s go to the forest and build an emergency shelter–I know what to do.’ So they
did. She wrote in the email that they were cold, but they managed to get through the night. They were found the next morning and she said she didn’t even want to know what might have happened if her boy hadn’t had that knowledge. “In another instance a family was tracking and their water started to run out. The boy had learnt to tell if a path is going to water based on the animal tracks, so they found a water source. “I love seeing the transformation in the children who come to the B2Gold Education Centre. Very often they arrive talking about fashion and cellphones, but there’s no cellphone reception here, which can be very scary. But by the time they leave, they’re in shorts and tackies and they’re picking things up and looking at tracks. That awareness is very beautiful. “That’s why B2Gold’s Education Centre is wonderful. The guys who run the Education Centre take kids on game drives and tracking and on long bush walks. Kids need that and even if afterwards they don’t pursue it, it does leave a mark in their memory. There is peace there that I hope they take home, and as they grow up, they’ll remember that peace and hopefully go back into the bush again to find it.”
B2Gold Namibia (Pty) Ltd. 20 Nachtigal Street, Ausspannplatz PO Box 80363, Olympia Windhoek Tel: +264 61 295 8700 Fax: + 264 61 295 8799 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
PRINT IN HIS BLOOD PETRUS AMUTHENU Namibia has a long history of exceptional printmakers, and Petrus Amuthenu is adding his work to this international acclaim.
is solo exhibitions, which are defined by prints of powerful Namibians, are a testatment to the artistic talent in this country and the continued power of printmaking in our national artistic narrative.
“I like going to the Goreangab Dam and watching the sunset – that is great for balance. Even when you’re painting, there are times when you feel like you’re not getting anything right. That is when it’s best to just leave it and come back to it later.”
“A country is lost without art,” states Petrus. “I think art should be introduced in all schools in Namibia because there are still many schools that don’t offer art. Art was not in my school – I had to teach myself.”
Petrus believes that all Namibians have a role to play in the arts. “People should support art more. There are people who just don’t understand; there are people who say I am doing useless things. These people need to open their eyes and see what art is all about. Come to the galleries – view the art.”
Petrus was born in Swakopmund and grew up in Northern Namibia in Uukwaluudhi. In his second solo exhibition, ‘Freeing My Mind’, which was held at the National Art Gallery of Namibia in 2016, Petrus showcased the journey from sketching through to printmaking. Some pieces involve eight separate layers of printing and painting, which can take Petrus up to a week and a half per piece to finish. “I enjoy every layer and every part. Pencil drawing is my favourite style, but I don’t like to be limited. Anything that makes a mark, I can use. I also like trying out new things.” Petrus talks of his inspiration – his brother, who is a military police officer. “My favourite piece for this exhibition is the one I did of my brother. It’s called Tangeni the Warrior. My brother is the one who raised me and taught me how to be a man. He is the one who toughened me up, and I did this piece to thank him for always looking out for me. It’s important for young people to have someone to look up to. If you don’t have anybody to look up to, you may end up lost.” A standout feature of this exhibition is that many of the images feature strong women. Petrus explains that this was not intentional but came simply out of the fact that, “to me the being of a woman is something that is beautiful. I see women as beautiful and powerful.” When asked how he creates balance in his life, Petrus says that he listens to music, draws or spends time in nature.
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A SHOT AT AFRICA KAREL PRINSLOO Karel Prinsloo is an award-winning Namibian photographer with the prestigious World Press Photo Award on his list of accolades.
KP: We are all the same; we are humans with the same issues and desires. We all want a decent life, a good education for our children and a better future for all.
self-taught photographer, Karel began his career at the Namibian newspaper Republikein. But it’s his humanitarian photography that has taken him all over Africa in the past three decades.
MYD: What do you love about being Namibian? KP: We love this land and there is something about this open space – it grabs you and never lets go of you. I love us as a nation – we are so diverse, yet so similar. We must accept each other for who we are, different but all so much the same.
His work has been published in major international publications including The New York Times, Time magazine, Newsweek and more. A runner-up for the CNN Africa Journalist of the Year photographic award, Karel has documented war zones and crisis situations, and been witness to some of the harshest conflicts on the continent. But his heart, he says, is still in Namibia. MYD: How did you get into photography? KP: It started by accident. After high school I was desperately looking for a job. I decided I could be a journalist and went to the Republikein. They informed me that they did not have an opening as a journalist but they had an opening as a photographer, and they asked if I would be interested. I started the next day, and ruined my first roll of film by exposing it in daylight. MYD: What has been your most rewarding moment as a photographer? KP: There have been many. Covering the Mozambique floods in 2001, we brought worldwide attention to the disaster and in the process many countless lives were saved. Or when my coverage stopped a small-scale war in the DRC. I managed to get into the besieged town of Bunia in 2003 and started photographing the atrocities. A week later the French sent special forces in direct reaction to the coverage. The war stopped the next day. Sadly, the Congo is still in turmoil. The hardest thing in my work is to get people to pay attention and to care. These days editorial money is a very scarce thing, so our coverage is becoming less and less. We cannot tell people’s stories as they should be told. Without a witness, terrible things can happen. MYD: You recently did a project on Namibian cultures. What did you learn from this project?
â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are all the same; we are humans with the same issues and desires. We all want a decent life, a good education for our children and a better future for all.â&#x20AC;?
SETTING A GREEN EXAMPLE
hat began as a unique vision 17 years ago between Nedbank and the Namibia Nature Foundation has become an internationally recognised collaboration in conservation, with the Nedbank Namibia Go Green Fund supporting more than 40 projects and playing a pivotal role in putting Namibia at the forefront of conservation efforts on a national and international scale. Lionel Matthews, Nedbank Namibia’s managing director, stresses the importance of corporate leadership and responsibility: “At Nedbank Namibia, we appreciate that funding is often very limited and that government can only do a restricted amount of environmental work. Funding from the private sector is therefore an absolute imperative to sustain the commitments made towards environmental conservation and protection.”
Since it was established in 2001, the Nedbank Namibia Go Green Fund has provided close to N$7 million to fund a variety of projects that reflect Namibia’s environmental abundance, including research into lichen fields, oxpeckers, baobab trees, Nile crocodiles and Cape ground squirrels, the Kunene Lion Project, and also community efforts, such as fishing projects and long-term support to the Namib Desert Environmental Education Trust. The Nedbank Go Green Fund was the first fund of its kind in Namibia and
is made possible through Nedbank’s home-loan and vehicle-finance products, which enable Namibians to play their part in conservation at no additional cost. A NEW DAWN Seventeen years of working hand in hand with conservationists has given the Nedbank Namibia Go Green team a bird’s eye view of the changing landscape of environmental achievements and challenges. Jacky Tjivikua, the fund’s manager, noted that this is allowing the fund to “remain dedicated to focusing on overlooked issues and species, while also exploring bigger societal concerns where smart green finance can help address matters and unlock more sustainable businesses.” Two issues that are critically important today are poaching and humanwildlife conflict. In line with this, the fund is teaming up with partners who are working to combat poaching and to address the challenges communities face when living amongst iconic wildlife species that can be a threat to human life and livelihoods.
Jacky added, “Ultimately, the Nedbank Go Green Fund is focused on sustainable development. You can take action too, by helping us support the conservation projects we select for their holistic approach and positive impact. Make Nedbank Namibia your banking partner next time you buy a house or a car, and we will donate to the Go Green Fund on your behalf, at no extra cost.” For more information on the Nedbank Go Green Fund, contact:
Nedbank Marketing Team Tel: +264 61 295 2121 www.nedbank.com.na
AN OUTSIDER LOOKING IN TITY TSHILUMBA Peace in Namibia is what enabled Tity Tshilumba to become a prolific artist.
ity graduated with a distinction in painting from the Institut des Beaux Arts in Lubumbashi in the DRC in 1998. Due to political instability, he left his home country and arrived in Namibia in 2000.
“For example, one painting is about how people send their children to be raised by their grandmothers in the village. In this one, I am portraying the grandmother, who is interested in making sure her granddaughter is getting education to go forward. It makes me feel happy and sometimes it makes me feel unhappy because if that grandmother doesn’t have an understanding of education, that will determine the future of the child.”
After his flight from conflict and instability to the peace and welcome he found in Namibia, Tity’s art has flourished. “Coming to Namibia influenced me positively as an artist. If you are working in an environment that doesn’t support you, even if you are doing something that you love, it is difficult. In the country that I came from, there are so many talented artists but it is so difficult to work there as an artist. Artists need an environment where there is peace, then you can work quietly and do things the way you need to. That is why I had to leave the Congo DR and come to Namibia,” reflects Tity.
When asked how the family he left behind in the DRC feels about his success as an artist in Namibia, Tity smiles broadly: “My family are very proud. They follow what I am doing on Facebook. At the opening night of my exhibition, they sent so many messages, saying that I was representing the family, that I did well, that I must continue and that they are still praying for me.” An artist who has overcome great odds, Tity’s work now adorns the walls of various Namibian buildings, including that of the Auditor General, the Ministry of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare, and the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.
“After living in Namibia for sixteen years, it feels like home. I am married to a Namibian woman and we have two children, plus the treatment I have received from fellow artists makes me feel like this is home. This has meant that I have not worried about what I left behind.”
Tity’s message to fellow artists, and especially up and coming artists, is that: “We are presenting something to society. This should be the most important thing, and not the idea of earning a living. If we put that first, we will abandon art. Be patient. In my case, I struggled but I was patient, which is how I got be to where I am today.”
Since 2007, when Tshilumba participated in his first group exhibition in Namibia, he has gone on to participate in twenty-one group and two solo exhibitions in the country. “When I arrived in Namibia, it was difficult to adjust and adapt. It was also difficult to come out and do what I love to do, which is art. I started to really express myself through art when I was introduced to the National Art Gallery for a group exhibition about Namibia’s independence.” In his most recent exhibition, Tity focused on the daily lives of Namibians, drawing from his experiences in both rural and urban areas. “What I portray is what is happening every moment of every day. I am inspired by stories and what I see. I love drawing people because in people there is a direct message.
WIRED MORIS DAVID Moris David has become known in the city centre for his consistently happy face and generous, warmhearted nature.
t is with these tools that he approaches the business of selling his intricate and beautifully crafted wire and bead-craft pieces, many of which are made from recycled materials.
Handling all the steps from production to sales means that Moris sometimes works up to eighteen hours a day, but he says he doesn’t mind the long hours. “This is why I ventured into this industry – it is my talent and it’s something I really love. I like being self-employed and if you’ve got determination to work hard, then demand goes up. I tell myself that I should do it like I have a degree in this. Because it’s my profession, I must be an expert in it.
At his workshop and sales floor, while we are discussing what has enabled him to upscale his once hobby into an incomegenerating business, Moris greets passers-by as if they are his dearest friends – most likely the biggest contributor to his business success.
“It’s been a good year so far. I now have the vision of achieving my goals through arts and crafts. My wish is to sell my products online, and let the whole world know about me. This is what I seek.”
Moris explains that his business started because he wanted a toy. “I was in need of a toy and was trying to make one. A stone-carver in my neighbourhood inspired me when he told me that whatever he carves, I could make as well with wire, because wire was the only resource I had. I started off with a bicycle, then I made a lizard.”
For the time being, seven days a week, you’ll find Moris always ready to greet and chat to locals and visitors alike, at the Namibia Craft Centre. By remaining mindful of the hardships he’s experienced in his career, Morris is also aware of how far he’s come. “I’m very thankful to those people who supported me from the beginning, from my early stages, when I was on the street. For all the people who wished me well, and for all the people who support me now, the guests and the locals who have helped me to grow, thank you for your support in helping me make it.”
Battling to find employment later in life, Moris once again turned to his craft. “After school, because of unemployment, I produced crafts and tried selling them, but it was a battle. I started selling my crafts on the streets, but I wasn’t allowed to sell on the streets and often got chased away by the police.” Without a permanent location, the battle to establish himself and his business continued until he met Shareen Thude, manager at the Namibia Craft Centre in Windhoek. “Shareen saw the quality of my work and she coached me for a while. Then she called and said, ‘I am going to offer you a space where you can do your work and you can display your work.’” Now Moris has a permanent home at the Namibia Craft Centre, and the constant flow of buyers means that he’s able to pay the rent for his space and earn a living off his craft. For the past four years, this has been his permanent workshop and sales floor. “There is a good advantage to working under the banner of the Craft Centre. The place is well established and I’m getting well established now too. My work is successful because I do the production myself. I make sure it’s neatly done, I’m the chief product designer, and I do the sales and distribution as well.”
FIND YOURSELF DANCING MCBREATON PIETERS Sometimes losing your job can set you on the path of your dreams.
hat’s what happened to Mcbreaton Pieters, who was an accountant and part-time dancer when his boss fired him because she saw his true passion. “She told me that she was passionate about writing but was working as a bookkeeper. It was a wake-up call for me and made me decide to start my own company doing what I love,” remembers Mcbreaton.
relationship and make their bonds stronger. Dancing works in mysterious ways, and I feel like all people should try it out.”
“If you are determined and you work hard at it, it’ll happen. I’m in a good place – I’ve grown and my personality supports the industry that I’m in, which is important. I’ve been around for six years, so I must be doing something right.” Mcbreaton is the founder and owner of Fusion Funk Dance Studio, where he shares his passion for dance with others. His studio combines many different styles of dance, including creative dance, Latin, ballroom, hip hop and others. It is also performance based, because he says, “Performing and dancing in front of people build up the confidence levels of our dancers. I too struggled with low self-esteem until I started dancing. Dance affected my life positively and that is why I want to share it, especially with the youth of Namibia. This is why I have even taken my dance classes to orphanages, and it has affected the kids in a positive way. It helps with their homework and their concentration and makes them feel like they’re wanted in a space, which is very important for any child.” “We use an international curriculum so that dancers can continue dancing anywhere else in the world if they want to. I’ve had ten students who qualified for the Dancing World Championships in 2015, and right now we are in the semifinals of the World Championships of Performing Arts. That’s something I’m very proud of.” Dancing is simply part of Mcbreaton’s DNA: “I have to dance. It’s a part of who I am; it’s part of my character. There is not a day when I’m not moving. Dancing is healthy – it keeps your mind healthy, helps you focus and concentrate. It’s a break away from everything else. I even have people who come and dance ballroom with their partners to grow their
“This is why I have even taken my dance classes to orphanages, and it has affected the kids in a positive way.” 131
CHAMPION OF COMMUNAL CONSERVANCIES MAXI LOUIS Maxi Louis grew up in a time where there were few opportunities for black women and fewer still that involved choosing a career path based on a passion. Yet, that is exactly what Maxi did.
oday, Maxi is a multi award-winning conservationist and one of the pioneers in the establishment of Namibia’s internationally acclaimed Communal Conservancy Programme. As the director of NACSO, the Namibian Association for Communal Conservancy Support Organisations, she works with the private sector, government, communities and decision makers to find common ground and implement communal conservancy policies that encourage sustainable utilitisation, development and conservation of Namibia’s natural resources.
have choices here. I don’t have to do agriculture.” As we were travelling around I realised that what I wanted to do was tourism. Tourism is my heart, so I started studying tourism. When I came back, it was just when a lot of developments in the country were taking place and I decided I didn’t want to do conventional tourism work. I wanted do something very unique. Something that I learnt about in Australia was how local communities were getting involved in tourism. So my idea was to come back and get involved in local communities. At the time, we called it ‘community-based tourism’. The country was moving towards involving communities, so I met with somebody from WWF who had seen that I had a keen interest, and they said, “We should involve you in this.” So, I became a founding member of an organisation called the Community Based Tourism Association. That’s where my real life started. I started working with communities, mostly in the North West and the Zambezi regions, and that’s where I spent a lot of my time, in the rural areas, working with communities, trying to get them involved in tourism. Since then I’ve never looked back.
MYD: A dynamic woman, a life spent conserving our wildlife ... Maxi, where did it all begin? ML: I grew up in Katutura, where there were not many linkages and you had fewer opportunities in terms of what you really wanted to become. So growing up, running around the streets of Katutura, I had no vision in terms of what I really wanted to become. I just wanted to become something. In those days, before independence, schools offered the opportunity to become a teacher or a nurse and then you could also get into agriculture. That was it. I’d seen many teachers and nurses, so I decided to venture into agriculture, which was ironic because at the time I had no exposure to farms or communal areas. I was an urban child; I grew up in an urban area. When I grew up, my mom was a domestic worker. She worked for a couple that ran a bed and breakfast. Every holiday she would take me along to go and help out, to clean. As I cleaned, I came across a lot of German tourists who stayed there and I started talking to them. I admired how they travelled here and went out into the bush. At the time I had never been out of Windhoek; I had never been to Etosha or the North West. The tourists would share their stories and, for me, it was awesome. When I finished school, I got a bursary to study at the academy, which is now NUST. I stayed there for a year, before I got a bursary to study in Australia. I was going to study agriculture, but when I got there, I realised, “Oh, I
MYD: Maxi, who inspired and shaped you to become who you are today? ML: My mother was a great inspiration in my life because she was just this simple woman but she believed in humanity. I think that’s what made me want to become who I am. I thought about how to help other people and that was by using my education, getting into rural areas and inspiring other people and other young women that were my age. Also, I wanted to reach older people who thought that they had nothing in life, that they hadn’t become something. That has been my inspiration in life: humanity and caring for people. That’s why you must make sure that you educate yourself: to make a difference in somebody’s life. MYD: I have travelled with you into different areas in Namibia and been into communal conservancies with you,
and the respect that you have from the people who live there is very evident. As somebody who was involved with the Communal Conservancy Programme from the start, what has it been like for you to see where it is today and its many successes? ML: When I was a bit younger, it felt like it was taking an eternity, like things are just not moving. But when I look back now, I learn that impact doesn’t just happen overnight. I’ve seen the programme that started from nowhere become such a huge programme that has so much impact across the country. We’ve received international recognition for the work that we do, and I feel proud that I was part of that contribution. I can look back one day and say, “Yes, I was there; I’ve done that.” Yes, I’m very proud.
Something very sad for me is that we Namibians don’t travel as much to see what is out there. When I was young I didn’t have money to travel, but once I was out there it changed my whole attitude towards the environment and conservation. MYD: For someone who hasn’t seen enough of Namibia, where should they go? ML: A lot of people go to places they know, but try go and experience things that you don’t know, and you might discover more. Travel around, stay at a commercial farm, go into a communal area, go to Etosha. I’m a desert lover. I like open spaces and I fell in love with the North West. I’m not a very green person – the desert is something that attracts me. Other people might love going to the Zambezi because there is lots of water and they can see a variety of animals. Other people like the south. I also like the south because, as I said, I like open spaces. In our country, because it’s so diverse, you can choose to do whatever you like.
MYD: Absolutely, and you have many reasons to be proud of what you’ve done. What have some of the highlights been? ML: The best moments for me in conservation, but also in my whole life, have been seeing communal people being given opportunities. My highlight was to be recognised as somebody who has made a contribution – I’ve received several awards and for me it was looking back and saying, “I came from nowhere and I made some differences in people’s lives.” But the biggest highlight is seeing that we have so much land under conservation in this country. We fought to get the land protected, to make sure that our kids can see wildlife, can see their environment in a different way – that is the biggest achievement in my life.
MYD: We’re so grateful for the work that you are doing. Before we close, do you have any message that you would like to share with Namibia? ML: As a human being, I love this country and I think we should really cherish what we have as a nation. It’s beautiful, it’s something that I think nobody can take away from us, but we need to work hard for it. Peace and stability is something that you need to work hard for. Never, ever take that for granted.
MYD: What is it like, when you interact with someone from outside Namibia and they hear about our successes in communal conservancies? ML: You don’t understand the impact you’ve made until you have people from outside coming here and saying, “What you are doing here you are not just doing for yourselves but you are doing it for the world, for me to be able to come and see.”
“Peace and stability is something that you need to work hard for. Never, ever take that for granted.” 134
Photo by: Degnos
Bank Windhoek’s Social Investment Fund a catalyst for sustainable opportunities in communities.
ank Windhoek’s Social Investment Fund is all about making an impact at the heart of communities in Namibia. The Fund supports organisations that are already established and whose focus areas are aligned with those of the Fund. “In the past we used to give organisations money to run their projects, but recently our approach has shifted to becoming a lot more involved in what they do to support their efforts,” says Sanet De Waal, Head of CSI, Sponsorships & Events.
“A valuable lesson that we’ve learnt from the projects we support is not to try and reinvent the wheel,” Sanet affirms. “The people you want to help know best how you can help them. Work with what you have in a specific community or project, and find ways to support their efforts.” An example of this is Aleksandra ØrbeckNilssen and the Nanofasa team, who
have carved an international niche market for their SAN-DAL project, using the age-old San tradition of sandal-making. Their unique product generates much-needed income for the Ju/’Hoansi-San. Sanet says, “The community loves making these sandals and the tradition is not only kept alive, but also passed on to the younger generation. “This should be the essence of all community projects,” she adds. “Don’t tell people what you think they should be doing – rather ask what they want to and can do, and build on that. Too often we try to tell people what they should do from a business perspective.” When taking on a project to support, Sanet emphasises the importance of thorough research. “You need to look at the community and understand why they do what they do, and how your assistance can improve on this. Give them training and equip them with the required skills to run a sustainable business, but don’t kill what they are doing.”
Members of staff are also encouraged to get more involved in supporting the communities in which they live and work, and in support of this the Bank Windhoek Empathy Project was born. Sanet explains, “We give our branches and departments start-up capital and they then raise additional money to invest in projects in their community. And the good thing about this,” she adds, “is that staff members gain a better understanding of the challenges their clients face. It also enables them to interact with clients and other stakeholders on a more intimate level.”
Tel: +264 61 299 1200 www.bankwindhoek.com.na
HEROES OF HOPE FOR OUR RHINOS SAVE THE RHINO TRUST Participating in a rhino track with the Save the Rhino Trust (SRT), MYD Earth witnessed the tireless work done by the trackers and their partners in the field to protect our black rhinos.
RT was founded in 1982 with a mandate to monitor and conduct research on the desertdwelling black rhinos in the Kunene Region. As rhino poaching has escalated throughout Africa, SRT’s approach to its work has changed to meet this challenge. SRT is now involved with ensuring that our rhino population is protected, together with its partners, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Namibian Police and Defence Forces, as well as Conservancy Rhino Rangers, WWF in Namibia, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), Namibian Association for Communal Conservancy Support Organisations (NACSO) and communal conservancies.
school now, and when they grow up and want to see the rhino, then their father is there as a protector of the rhino.” Another SRT tracker, Albertus Ganusap, grew up in the village of Sesfontein in northwestern Namibia. “I grew up in nature, and I like to be in the environment. That is why I chose this work to protect the rhino.” The Save the Rhino Trust and Wilderness Safaris’ Desert Rhino Camp have a joint venture, along with the Torra, Sesfontein and Anabeb conservancies, where SRT trackers are provided with a base and tourists get to experience first hand the hard work of rhino protection. Wilderness Safaris’ community-engagement manager, Jermain Ketji, has spent a lot of time working with the men in the field, and his sense of pride in their accomplishments is palpable: “Today I had the honour of sharing a trench with anonymous heroes. They are unknown, but their cause is well known. They are heroes yesterday, today and tomorrow through their cause. Their cause is a selfless one and they represent not only their country but also eternal Mother Earth and her biodiversity as they crisscross their office cautiously, one step at a time.
Rhino-poaching numbers in the Kunene Region have been decreasing in recent years, due in large part to the team effort and dedicated work of community members who support this important cause. MYD Earth heard from the men on the ground about what a day in the life of a rhino guard is like, and why they came to protector our rhinos. “Each and every day our teams go out and track rhino,” said Denzel Tjiraso, who has worked for SRT for over a decade. “When we find the rhino, we fill in information on the animal in this small book. This information becomes part of our database. This database is the longest and largest database of its type in the world. It is not public – it is for use by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and we keep the data secret because of poaching.” Denzel adds, “This is not my rhino, it’s our rhino, so we need local people to be involved to help us because this area where we are working is huge.” Denzel remembers that when he was in school, he had read about black rhino but had never seen one. “It was my aim that when I finished school, I would be part of the membership to protect black rhinos. I have kids who are in
“I celebrate today for I have walked in the footsteps of hope for our rhino, as a nation and as a generation,” shares Jermain.
“I celebrate today for I have walked in the footsteps of hope for our rhino, as a nation and as a generation.” 137
SCALING UP TO SAVE THE PANGOLIN THE RARE AND ENDANGERED SPECIES TRUST Pangolins have walked the earth for 80 million years, yet because of their loner status they are possibly some of the world’s least understood animals.
ere in Namibia we are leading the globe on pangolin research just as they have been internationally declared to be the most trafficked animal on earth.
Dr Chris Brown, chairman of the Namibian Chamber of Environment (NCE), says, “In Namibia, we knew there was some trade but we are probably still underestimating the extent of the problem. So what can we do about it? We can work together to raise awareness among communities and the public and the fact that we need to come together to put a stop to this.”
Rapidly facing extinction in our time, pangolins are trafficked for their scales, which, like human fingernails and rhino horns, are made of keratin. In some Asian countries, pangolin scales, like rhino horns, are falsely believed to have medicinal value.
Chris explains that pangolins perform an important functon in our ecosytem. “Their food focuses on ants and termites, and if you add up all the termites and ants eaten by pangolins and convert that to the amount of grass eaten by termites and ants, you come to know the important role pangolins play in our ecosystem by keeping grasses available for wildlife and stock.
The Rare and Endangered Species Trust (REST) have a list of firsts when it comes to pangolin research and have received international acclaim for the valuable research they have generated, and that is helping the global community better understand pangolins.
“Pangolins burrow and they aerate the ground, providing nutrients in and out. We need to look after them. Pangolins are being killed for a myth, and while we don’t have the wherewithall to change this in Asia, we do have the ability to change it here in Namibia.”
Maria Diekmann, founder and director of REST, shares details of their research and information on why the pangolin is worth protecting: “Globally, there are eight species of pangolin, four in Africa and four in Asia. In Asia they are almost extinct, and we are having serious problems in Africa too. In Namibia we have the ground pangolin, and it is the only one that can survive in arid areas. They are mainly nocturnal, shy, curl up into a ball when threatened, and they are officially the most illegally trafficked animal in the world.
To spread information on the importance of pangolins to the ecosystem and the threats that they face, NCE has put together a poster that will be distributed throughout the northeast and east of the country, where pangolins are most commonly found.
“The pangoin is such a shy animal that you can’t follow it very well, and if you do, it won’t exhibit its natural behaviour. Only three people in the world have successfully raised a pangolin, and only two, including us, have ever successfully raised a baby.”
They have also put the information from the poster onto business cards, which included a telephone number to call with information on the capture, mistreatment or trade in pangolins. A reward system has also been set up to put a stop to the trafficking.
Maria adds that she can almost tell us more about what we don’t know about pangolins than what we do know: “They have never bred in captivity. We don’t know how long they live. We don’t know how long babies stay with mothers. We don’t know how long they are pregnant. The problem is that we could be facing the extinction of an animal we know virtually nothing about.”
It is up to each and every Namibian to get involved and be part of the solution to protect our pangolins.
CONNECTORS OF POSITIVE CHANGE
beautiful aerial photograph of the Okavango river graces the cover of Capricorn Groups’ Integrated report, representing the group’s new positioning of being a “Connector of Positive Change” in society, just like a river’s positive energy that flows through the land and connects communities. “If we all effect positive change in our community where we live and where we go to church and in our children’s schools, then we can make an impact,” says Marlize Horn, Group Executive: Brand & Corporate Affairs at Capricorn Investment Group. “We’ve always believed that connecting like-minded partners will help us to effect positive change, whether it’s in the economy or society. We don’t have all the answers, but we know people who have some of the answers, and if we can connect them to the people who ask the questions, then we can make a difference. We were surprised by the tremendously positive response from people to our social media and online campaigns. Initially, we just shared thought-provoking messages around change in general. Then we launched
a photography competition, and the brief was to spot people who are making positive changes within your community or environment. We also ran a social media campaign to find stories in Zambia, Botswana and Namibia about people who are effecting positive change. By sharing their stories, we may reach someone looking for a project to support or a person who will find strength in these stories.” Positive stories from across the region poured in, sending ripples of hope and inspiration through the land. This was Namibia’s winning story: Fillemon Shikomba - Namibia My mother, Helena Namene is the founder and first teacher at Amateta Primary School. After completing her education at the Ongwediva College of Education in 1992, she returned to the village where she came from. Instead of looking for a placement at a school for a job, she started teaching in her village under a tree because that the nearest school was over 20 kilometres away. She brought the community together, and they supported her. They gave goats and chickens to thank her for educating the community. She used
her savings to buy books and school materials for the children. Eventually, her hard work was noticed by the government, and they constructed a formal school in the community. She became the school’s first teacher, and a block at the school was named after her. Helena has a special project at the school where teachers donate funds to buy school uniforms for less privileged learners at the school, and in 2014 she won the Windhoek Lager Ambassador of Education title. Last year she won the Windhoek Observer Newsmakers Awards and was nominated for the Namibian Business Woman on the Year award.
Capricorn Investment Group 6th Floor, Capricorn Group Building, Kasino Street email@example.com www.capricorn.com.na
LAYERS OF HUMANKIND ALEKSANDRA ØRBECK-NILSSEN Aleksandra Ørbeck-Nilssen is an international supermodel who exchanged the catwalk and covers of glossy magazines to come to Namibia and support the San community.
er Nanofasa Conservation Trust is a progressive organisation eager to learn from the wealth of knowledge held by the Khoisan people of Namibia.
San, I felt like they sent me out of my poverty of perception. They had so much to teach me, and that sort of laid the foundation for Nanofasa. Culture and nature are essentially the colours of our world and if we don’t have that, we’re poor. Namibia changed my life and when I met the San people, they saved me. We started the Barefoot Academy, providing tradition-based education and work creation from the elders. Through the Barefoot Academy, ancient knowledge is passed on through generations, but adapted to modern opportunities and projects. One of the projects is the Sandal Project that was inspired by the ancient running and hunting that the San people used to do. We got the old people to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation, and they’re all making sandals. We’ve received orders from the UK from Viva Barefoot for 1 400 pairs of sandals. The San people have always been sustainably linked to their surroundings. We have so much to learn from that because we consider ourselves separate from the ecosystem. One of our next projects is taking the old hunters, with their amazing tracking skills, and turning them into wildlife shepherds. With their tracking knowledge, they can become the biggest guardians and protectors of wildlife.
MYD: Welcome, Aleksandra. Let’s start off with the story of how you became an international model. AØ-N: I’m not from here, although I would love to have been. I’m from Norway, and then I moved to Paris and New York. I just sort of walked into the office in Paris and the next thing I had to do was go to see Chanel and then I booked the job. I’ve done Vogue, Jimmy Choo campaigns, Hugo Boss and more. I did around a 175 travelling days a year from the age of fifteen. MYD: So what brought you to Namibia? AØ-N: I needed a break, because I grew up so fast and had to dive into this career. I went into modelling because I wanted to travel and see the world, but it is very rushed. I needed to feel something real again. I grew up in nature in Norway and I was thinking about making a move. Then I got robbed in New York, and that was sort of the big gamechanger for me. I went back to my flat and I had a globe and I spun it, and I said wherever my finger landed, I would go. My finger landed on Namibia. I first came to Namibia to volunteer my help in wildlife. I ended up extending my stay, and then I was offered an opportunity to come back. For me it was very obvious what I needed to do, because what I felt here in Namibia was that I was looking forward to waking up in the morning. I felt like I went to bed with more energy than I started the day off with, and that for me is a clear sign of inspiration – that you’re doing something right for your life. I didn’t have that in New York.
MYD: You’ve just completed a walk across Namibia with two Ju/’Hoansi-San men, who guided you as you walked for one month, living off the land. AØ-N: This walk ended up being 14 091 kilometres across Namibia from east to west – reaching the ocean was our target. It was me and two Ju/’Hoansi-San men – one was an older man and one was a younger guy. The three us were the little trio that embarked on a journey to live off the land, without money, crossing the country and just hoping for people’s humanity and the generosity of mother nature. It’s weird because we spent so much time looking for food and water but then, through all the encounters with people from all different walks of life, we also realised that we had to be water for other people, and that we were bringing the gift of sharing real moments and sharing our story, and
MYD: Tell us about the journey to start Nanofasa? AØ-N: I was like everybody else that comes to Africa from the Western world, wanting to save and help, with the perception that I had something to give. But when I met the
maybe shaking people out of their comfort zones. They were giving us tools for survival, giving us food and water when we needed it, and it was incredible. We stayed with Okavango people, we stayed with Himba people – they read our future for the next couple of weeks in the intestines of a goat. We were invited in by farmers, and we were driven past by tourists who didn’t want to help us fill our water bottle. It was all different layers of human beings and of course wildlife, and a lot of very hairy experiences. MYD: What were some of the hairy experiences? AØ-N: I don’t know if you’ve ever walked three kilometres in the dark surrounded by elephants? Every single place you turn there is an elephant, a big shadow. An elephant in the dark charged us and you cannot see anything. You just hear it moving around you and coming for you. We had to run low along the ground, hoping that we would stay out of its direction of smell. Things like that make you feel extremely alive. MYD: It’s such a beautiful story: the realisation that we coexist with nature, which can sometimes be a source of support and sometimes also be a source of great danger? AØ-N: For me the interesting thing about doing this walk with these two Ju/’Hoansi-San was that we struggle so much to coexist with mother nature, but for them, they struggle to coexist with everything that is so modern. So this was sort of our walk home together, trying to figure out how we can learn and live and coexist. /Kamaché, the younger San man, you could see the big imprint of history living in him as a young boy, how he almost wanted to walk invisibly past people. Then, as we walked, you saw the change in him as he realised that people were curious about him, because they really admire his people and what they represent. At the very end, he was standing and telling anybody – the Himbas, anybody – about himself and what a San person really is, and he was a completely different person. But most incredible was to be part of all their ‘first times’. First time seeing a tar road. First time leaving the village. First time seeing the ocean. And they were so scared of the ocean. It was the most beautiful thing – we held hands and we walked into the water together, and they were wondering if it was angry with us because it was making so much noise. There were just these really true moments where you also learnt to appreciate all the things we take for granted. MYD: Were you nervous of how you would live, without food, water or money? AØ-N: I wasn’t so nervous about the first part because that was walking through the old area, Bushmanland, which is their area where they know how to survive. There we lived on bush food and we could hunt because it’s their traditional area. But then outside of that, that’s when it got hard because suddenly it’s privately owned land. Suddenly you have to walk north, south, north, south. You can’t just cross west because there are fences, and it’s not so easy to just go and pick something, because what if it’s on the wrong side of the fence? Technically, that’s not yours. So then we felt really dependent on people and had to ask people for help. That’s a strange feeling, because we came from a place where
we were very much considered part of nature, and then suddenly we were separated from it, and then reintroduced to it again. MYD: What would you say would be the single most important takeaway for you after doing this walk? AØ-N: After spending time with the two Ju/’Hoansi-San men, and everything that we experienced together, I realised it’s not just about us being surrounded by nature or moving through nature, but that we are nature – that’s my biggest lesson. I think the whole walk was about shedding layers until we reached the true skin, and in essence we are all the same – that’s what it’s really about. We might live our lives differently, but the only thing you have to promise yourself is to live your life with a happy heart. MYD: What would your message be about what we can learn from this ancient culture? AØ-N: I would say that they are true, they are honest and they make you realise that we are all just people. The San will never, ever care about what you do or where you come from or how much money you make – it’s absolutely insignificant, and I think that’s the biggest relief for people. They facilitate space where you can breathe.
“For me the interesting thing about doing this walk with these two Ju/’Hoansi-San was that we struggle so much to coexist with mother nature, but for them, they struggle to coexist with everything that is so modern.” 145
DRAWING CHILDREN CLOSER TO NATURE ANNIKA FUNKE Annika Funke is a self-taught artist who now lives and paints in Namibia.
he launched the Kayamoja ArtConnects Trust, which aims to create the opportunity for impoverished Namibian children to see, meet and learn about wildlife and wildlife conservation, as
more artists and art institutions to the project so that it can be expanded to include more children around Namibia. Her goal is fast becoming a reality as world-renowned wildlife artists have joined her initiative, donating their art to raise funds for the Kayamoja ArtConnects Trust.
well as art.
“Right now I’m busy putting a toolkit together for teachers in Namibia, so that children from all over the country can follow wildlife art topics in the same way we do on our trips. We learn about the wild dog, for example, and then look at how to paint the wild dog. Then children from all over the country can participate in the newcomers competition in our Kayamoja Wildlife Art Exhibition 2018.
“I started by working with the Hope Village Orphanage. We’d take the children on trips to a wildlife sanctuary, where they were given a chance to see and learn about wildlife and wildlife conservation. Drawing and painting encourages the children to see the true beauty of animals; art makes you take a closer look,” says Annika. Born in Germany, Annika’s goal in life was always to come to Africa, not only for creative expression but also for her soul. “I studied African science just to be able to come to Africa one day. I used to work as a journalist and I would spend all my time in the Cologne Zoo. I came to Africa so that I could be with the animals, be where the animals live.
“I believe conservation begins with education. This is where I can make a change. It is about awakening a passion and empathy, stimulating awareness in the younger generations. I believe we need to inspire love for wildlife because what we learn to love, we learn to respect.”
“Being an artist is about expressing who you are and so I felt that I needed to have the real experience myself, in order to tell a story that is real. My personal story connects me to nature, that bond is beautiful, and that is what ArtConnects is recreating: personal stories, personal experiences. “These amazing children that I have taught, they didn’t know the difference between a zebra and a giraffe. The first time they saw a wildebeest, they said, ‘Wow, perfect, perfect.’ They were so excited they kept saying, ‘Oh man, this is amazing.’ What are they going to do when they see elephants! “These trips are a positive memory, and I want to make them as beautiful as possible for the children. It is important to create the opportunity for great encounters and real memories with animals at a young age, which will grow into a real appreciation for what the animals truly are: an amazing gift and enrichment to this planet, and not our property.” Until recently, Annika financed the project with income from sales of her original artwork, but she has plans to connect
EDUCATING THE CUSTODIANS OF THE FUTURE CHILDREN IN THE WILDERNESS An environmental and life-skills educational programme that focuses on the next generation of rural decision-makers, Children in the Wilderness (CITW) is proving that exposure is a key ingredient in youth development.
s community engagement and CITW administrator from Wilderness Safaris, Agnes Tjirare shares the programme’s approach to helping rural children push their limits and achieve their dreams. “Our goal is to contribute to the development of rural children in Namibia by creating learning sanctuaries for vulnerable children,” she says.
“This is where we help the children to apply what they have learnt in their curriculum. They enjoy themselves and experience nature, while the camps also give them a chance to see what direction they are interested in going, so that when they leave camp, we can help find them mentors to help them continue on their learning journey.” At the high-school level, a second phase of Children in the Wilderness begins: the Youth Environmental Stewardship. Here older students are exposed to more career options.
CITW focuses on rural children mainly because they don’t have the same opportunities as children in urban settings. “Most of these children come from remote villages far away from where they are attending school. That means they come and live either with guardians or in child-lead homes, which increases their level of vulnerability. And their exposure level is also minimal.
“We know that not all children are interested in the tourism sector, so we help to expose them to corporations and individuals in fields where they might be able to excel. We help find them mentors and support for their education. “The students meet professionals in various fields and get more in-depth career-path information. We also take them to other parts of the country, like Swakopmund, to explore marine sciences, and Windhoek, where they visit museums and universities, and talk to business people at companies like Price Waterhouse Coopers and Deloitte, and learn about human rights.”
“Through Children in the Wilderness Eco-Clubs, the children are taught about the importance of conservation. They are taught about human-wildlife conflict, the significance of recycling and reusing, and not to waste water, for example,” says Agnes. “It’s all about caring for nature and giving back in ways that add value to their lives.” Along with Eco-Clubs and camps operated by Wilderness Safaris, teachers at schools in rural areas where the company operates are provided with a curriculum that includes environmental education, hygiene and the importance of nutrition. Some schools, like the school at Bergsig, have received support from Wilderness Safaris guests to start a comprehensive library.
Wilderness Safaris believes that Africa needs young and energetic future leaders who are inspired and who understand the significance of sustainable business, development and conservation on the continent. Agnes adds, “We try to spread good values, and these children can carry on the dream.”
“At the core of Children in the Wilderness are annual camps, where we invite children in order to expose them to what guests from all over the world do. The children sleep at the lodge, use the facilities, are taken out on game drives and walk with professional guides, and are treated to meals cooked by professional chefs.
THE CHILD’S BRAIN AND TECHNOLOGY (PRESS ESC) DR MANFRED SPITZER Professor Dr Manfred Spitzer, a German psychiatrist, psychologist, neuroscientist and author, is one of the most well-known and respected neuroscientists in the world.
hile in Namibia, Dr Spritzer shared his knowledge on what technology is doing to our brains and our ability to learn, and what this effect will have on us as we age.
Korean physicians who had to deal with middle-aged men who couldn’t concentrate, felt depressed, lacked motivation and had memory problems, and it turned out that they all spent a lot of time in front of computers. Not just working, that would be okay, but rather in their leisure time; they were fighting monsters and all that. After having dealt with quite a few of those cases, they coined the term ‘digital dementia’ for the negative mental effects of the overuse of digital
MYD: Dr Spritzer, you have done some incredible research into ‘digital dementia’. Please share with us what this means. MS: The term isn’t my invention. It was coined by South
media. I myself take this as an umbrella term of the risks and side-effects of digital media use. When you’re born, your brain is a learning device but it doesn’t know anything, so you learn how to walk and talk by using your brain. In contrast to a computer, where there is a hard drive storing information and a chip processing the information, our brains just have neurons – one-hundredbillion neurons – and each neuron has about ten thousand connections. That gives you one-million-billion connections. The most important finding from brain research from the last thirty years is that these connections change when they are used. When you think, perceive, wish something or feel it, that all happens in your brain through neurons sending electrical signals between each other, thereby changing their connections. These connections basically become the memory. We use our brains to understand things, and we get better the more we try. Just to give you a trivial example: there are people who know one language, and then there are people who know five languages. When both try to learn a new language, who can do that better? Well, the guy who already knows five. You’ll never meet a person who will say, “Well, you know, I know five languages. By now my language sensors are almost full so I can’t do any more.” It follows that our brain has a strange capability: the more that is in there, the more fits in on top of that. If there is nothing in there, nothing will fit in. But, the more you put in, the more will fit. Many people these days, the young digital natives, will outsource information. This is completely nonsensical.
You have to use your brain and the more you do, the more usable and useful it’s going to be in the future. We adults think that when we outsource mental processing by using tools, we become more productive in our work. We outsource arithmetic – just key in numbers and a machine will do the trick. We outsource navigation – our cars know where we are going. But when you outsource all that mental activity, it’s bad for your brain and the younger the brain is, the worse this outsourcing is for it. This is why exposing kids to digital technology is really a crime. If you give a two- or three-year-old kid an iPad, you dumb your kid down. You wreck havoc on brain development and you also stimulate addiction because digital media, as we know, is addictive. I think parents’ responsibility to protect their kids from digital media for their betterment is not as commonly advocated as it should be. That is why I am here. We know that digital-media use in schools gets worse education results than when there is no digital media. There have been considerable studies showing that computers in schools make kids fare worse. They don’t get better. If you look at the facts – the biggest studies are done by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – they looked at the investment of digital media in schools in more than fifty countries, and they found no correlation between the money spent on digital media in schools and the school achievement of the kids. No correlation. Computers and tablets in schools are a waste of money. In fact, the kids who are not so smart, they are actually hurt
most by the technology. So the argument that we create equal opportunity – that digital media gives everybody access to the knowledge of the world any place, anywhere, anytime so that they have the same opportunity to get the best grades – is wrong. MYD: Let’s talk for a moment about the addictive nature of technology and why children should not be exposed to any form of technology. MS: Parents should know that even a television in the background impairs the language development of kids. This has been proven by research comparing families with TV on in the background and those with no TV on in the background. Electronic books, children’s books, they even come with a ‘read to me’ button, so you can press a button and then the book will read itself to the kid. Well, what parents should know is that language development really depends on interaction between human beings. Normally the mother would read books to the child, but now it’s an e-book with bells and whistles, and it has been shown that this impairs comprehension by the kid. It has been proven that from a screen and a loudspeaker, young kids cannot learn language. They just can’t. So a children’s book that comes with a ‘read to me’ button is about as sensible as a trainer bicycle that comes with a motor so that you don’t have to sweat on it – it misses the point. It’s the interaction with the mother that stimulates the neurological connections. In fact, if a mother says, “Hush, I’m reading to you,” it’s wrong because talking to one another is the best thing for language development. Apart from that, digital media is highly addictive. Working as head of a psychiatric clinic, I had a patient who spent eighteen hours a day with World of Warcraft. He lost his job, he lost his apartment, he was a complete mess. He had the waste bucket next to the computer so he didn’t have to use the toilet. His life was ruined and once you’ve seen that, you know there is a real problem. To give you a number, in South Korea – and South Korea is possibly the nation that’s most wired up and most digitised – the percentage of smart-phone addicts between ten and nineteen years old is over thirty. This is the data from South Korea, published by the Minister of Science. In South Korea they are starting to act upon it. If you buy a smart phone and you’re under nineteen, software has to be installed, by law, that monitors how much you are using this thing, and if you are over-using it, your parents get notified. Software has been installed that blocks bad content, pornography and bad violence, etcetera, and the game servers are shut down at night, so you can’t play Warcraft at three o’clock in the morning, simply because there is legislation that kids must not do that. They realised as a society that they have no future with one in three kids being a smart-phone addict, so they’re doing something about it. I think it’s time other developed and
developing countries who have a problem with the overuse of digital media get the message that we have to protect our kids from its serious risks and side-effects. MYD: What is your advice for creating balance in your life as an adult and for your children? Where do you draw the technological line? MS: For children, it’s easy – just not. Or make sure that you are clearly aware of the fact that the dosage makes the poison, so looking at the smartphone once a day is okay, but looking at it three hundred times a day is not okay. Spending fifteen minutes in front of TV is okay, but spending seven hours a day in front of screens is not okay. Every single day without a screen is a good day for a developing kid. In Germany, some kindergarten kids have smartphones and we shouldn’t do that. Why don’t we let fourteen year olds drive cars? Because we think the nondeveloped brain of a fourteen year old should not be in charge of a hundred horsepower under the hood. By the same token, the nondeveloped brain of a fourteen year old should not be left alone with the largest crime scene, the largest pornographic kingdom and the biggest access to all kinds of nonsense. We should not leave them alone with that. We should protect the next generation from the detrimental effects of digital media as best as we can. MYD: Some amazing points to consider. What is your advice then for how we can create more balance in our lives? MS: Be physically active, be with other people and be in nature because it has been shown that nature has many beneficial effects on the mental state of people. It makes you more creative, it reduces stress, which is the most harmful thing you can have, and it even makes you a more moral person. MYD: Would you recommend something like a digital detox, where you have one day when you don’t spend any time in front of any digital anything? MS: Oh, I’d say going offline is the new luxury. Get off the screen and do something real with real people in real life.
“I’d say going offline is the new luxury. Get off the screen and do something real with real people in real life.” 152
SWACO ADOPTS NAWALTA THE RHINO IN SUPPORT OF SAVE THE RHINO TRUST
onservationists by heart the Swaco Group of Companies has supported the Cheetah Conservation Fund for 25 years, and for the last several years, they have been proud partners of Save the Rhino Namibia, helping to secure a future for the world’s last, truly wild population of black rhino.
Over the past three years, Swaco’s yearly contribution has included N$23 500 as part of the “Adopt a Rhino” programme and an additional N$10 000 that has been applied to capacity building. Swaco’s symbolic adoption of Nawalta, a young black rhino bull, covers the cost of monitoring and protecting him. Maxi Louis, Chairperson of the Save the Rhino Trust expressed her gratitude for Swaco’s commitment to
the future of Namibia’s black rhinos and challenged other Namibians to join the fight to help ensure that these magnificent creatures continue to roam Namibia’s mountains and plains for generations to come. For Nawalta, it has been a busy time since June 2016, when the Ministry of Environment and Tourism’s game capture team immobilised him so that they could safely remove his horn and give him an ear notch. Removing the horn will help protect him from poachers, and the ear notch (just like piercing your ear) will help Save the Rhino Trust’s trackers identify him more easily. Nawalta’s family has also grown since his mother, Nigeria (also sponsored by SWACO), gave birth to a new calf in January 2017. As a natural part of his development, Nawalta had just turned four years old,
which meant that it was time for him to leave his mother and begin a life on his own.
Tel: +264 61 233051 Fax: +264 61 225428 www.swacogroupnamibia.com
Swaco Industries Namibia (Pty) Ltd Swachem Namibia (Pty) Ltd Cernol Chemicals [Namibia] (Pty) Ltd Spice and Scale World (Pty) Ltd
SORRY, YOU’RE BREAKING UP ... ELISE HEIKKINEN-JOHNSTONE One of the very things that connects us to other people is threatening relationships all over the world.
t’s a catch-22, but studies are pointing to the potential relationship-wrecking affects of too much technology time: our need to connect via technology could be robbing us of the true connection we need with our loved ones.
• Become aware of when is it acceptable to engage with your gadgets, as every situation is certainly not okay. • Ask yourself what is important to you: having a loving relationship or many friends in your virtual world. • Ask yourself if your use of gadgets/technology bothers your loved ones.
According to Elise Heikkinen-Johnstone, a personal and organisational-development practitioner in Namibia, “Technology today is truly wonderful, helping with every aspect of our lives from banking to keeping fit. Smart phones and tablets connect us so easily with our loved ones. However, I often see couples and families sitting in coffee shops or restaurants and all of them are in their individual worlds tapping away on their gadgets. There is no interpersonal communication at the table, just people in their internal virtual worlds with their many apps. But as human beings we need face-to-face communication and also the physical closeness of one another.”
Next, Elise notes that “regardless if you see your frequent technology use as troublesome or not to your relationships, I would suggest some serious weekly technology-detox time.” Elise’s tips include having a rule not to use gadgets when you are with your loved ones, unless you are expecting communication on a serious matter. Even then, inform your significant other that you are expecting this communication. She also suggests turning off your gadgets for one weekend a month and using that time with loved ones. It can feel scary, she says, but is well worth it and can be truly liberating: “When you allow yourself to fully give your attention to others, you will see improvements in communication and also your general levels of happiness.”
Namibian blogger Ros Limbo notes, “We are great at making friends, having long chats and sharing pictures, as long as it is limited to social media. The moment intimacy wishes to extend beyond the LCD screen, millennials freeze.” Elise explains: “A large part of human communication is non-verbal, and includes posture, hand gestures and facial expressions. These are difficult to experience in the presence of technology. If the person you are having coffee with is constantly busy with his/her gadget, it sends a non-verbal message that their gadget is more important than you.” Elise says that a regular stocktake on how technology is affecting our relationships is critical if we want to maintain intimacy with our partner and not with our smart phones. Her advice is to first check in with yourself to see where you stand regarding technology usage within your relationship.
INSPIRING YOUNG SCIENTISTS THROUGHOUT NAMIBIA
eople are going to have fun and they are going to learn at the same time and we’re going to break down the barriers surrounding physics and we’re going to empower children and teachers to go out and to make sure that they know that they can change Namibia. We need to generate scientists, we need engineers; we need people with technical skills,” enthuses Ignasius /Awaseb, B2Gold’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager. Ignasius’s excitement for the possibilities that are embedded in B2Gold’s Little Shop of Physics is palpable. Handing over the reins of the project is an equally excited Sherri Lytle, who has been stoking the fire for Physics in Namibia for the last five and a half years.
The Little Shop of Physics is a passion project of Sherri’s that she brought
to Namibia from Colorado State University in America, her alma mater. Sherri’s personal experience of the transforming power of Little Shop of Physics on young minds and their perception of Physics impelled her to literally “set up shop” in Namibia. “Little Shop of Physics has been around for twenty five years. I met the creators, Brian Jones and Sheila Ferguson, when they first began when my son was in the First Grade. All three of my children have come up through Little Shop of Physics. I believe that the Little Shop of Physics model changed my children’s lives forever - they’re passionate, they think outside of the box, they build things, they break things, they make things, they find trash and do creative things with it. And it’s not only about physics, it’s about all genres, it’s about nature, conservation, how people relate to each other, teamwork. It’s a model that fits across different disciplines in
the education system. I believe in the Little Shop of Physics and I can see that it is helping to change Namibia.” Four years ago, when B2Gold constructed their Education Centre at the Otjikoto Mine north of Otjiwarango, Sherri told the Managing Director of B2Gold at that time that she was bringing the Little Shop of Physics to Namibia. The merit of the initiative perfectly aligns with B2Gold’s Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and since then, they’ve never looked back. “B2Gold’s CSR extends across four focus areas, health, environment, livelihoods and education, and we try to do as much as we can for the region in which we operate and to extend this to a national level. B2Gold is planning outreach programs to take Little Shop of Physics to schools that cannot necessarily take part in the events hosted at our Education
Centre. We have appointed education specialists to facilitate the rolling out of Little Shop of Physics, so that more young minds can find inspiration in science and nature, “Ignasius explains. “All you need is a room with different size tables. This is our lab. It’s simple, and that’s the beauty of it. It’s a room at the Education Centre, under a big tent with tables that are broken and we did that on purpose to let teachers know that it’s not expensive. We also use everyday materials, water bottles, straws, trash, ketchup bottles. We can use that for pressure and flotation. We use all kinds of things - baking soda and vinegar, the physics of mixing these two applies anywhere in the world, in the villages, everywhere, it just works. It makes science simple and accessible.” Sherri adds, “The teachers become empowered and inspired. Three years later, they have a fantastic toolbox and the methodology is so ingrained, so you can just imagine what kind of impact that will have on generations of students in the classroom. “The feedback has been overwhelming, because they look at it and think ‘oh my gosh, I can teach that, I can
do that, anybody can be a scientist, anybody can do this.’ You just need to learn how to teach physics in this fun, inspiring way.” Every year the B2Gold Education Centre hosts an annual Science Day with forty teachers from the region and the Little Shop of Physics team from Colorado State University. As Ignasius professed, they too come to break down barriers and engage, giving up their holidays in the US to assist with the advancement of science in Namibia, and they do it all for free. The teachers who go through the training can then join the Little Shop of Physics team to work with students on Science Day. It is basically a condensed day of what the Little Shop of Physics does throughout the year and any student at any school in the country can sign up to join. “Along with the hands-on experience, we also have Namibians doing physics experiments on video, so we have podcasts. So after the workshop the teachers can download the podcasts off the internet or it’s on a USP, they can take it back to their school with them, learn from it, and simply plug it in in the classroom and the kids can follow it.” Inspiring young minds and creating an atmosphere of fun, where science is celebrated and investigated, this is The Little Shop of Physics, part of the future for science in Namibia.
B2Gold Namibia (Pty) Ltd. 20 Nachtigal Street, Ausspannplatz PO Box 80363, Olympia Windhoek Tel: +264 61 295 8700 Fax: + 264 61 295 8799 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
FRIENDS ARE THERAPY LAUREN VOGES Great friends make you happy. They even make you healthier, and have positive effects on your immune system.
n a 2012 article called “Connect to thrive”, Psychology Today lists some of the benefits of strong social bonds, which include an improvement in physical health and psychological well-being, a strengthened immune system and a fifty per cent increased chance of longevity.
A call to our loved ones without an agenda, just to reach out to them, goes a long way in building relationships. This also applies, Lauren explains, when you need help. Pick up the phone and call a friend. Chances are you’ll feel better for it.
The opposite is also true: relationships that drain you have a negative affect on many areas of your life, including your immune system. According to the article, one study shows that the lack of social connections is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure. Lauren Voges, an internationally accredited life coach and founder of Latitude Integral Coaching and Development in Windhoek, agrees: “Our happiness really comes down to our relationships.” A Harvard Medical School study that monitored thousands of people over more than seventy-five years found that happiness in friendships is contagious. Robert Waldinger, the lead on the study, explains in his TedTalk that, “People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. And good, close relationships seem to buffer us from some of the slings and arrows of getting old.” Lauren advises two simple things that you can do today to connect more deeply with others: Put down the phone: To truly relate to one another, we need to connect, and this requires us to pay attention to each other. Putting down the phone when you are with friends or in social environments means you are really engaging with the person/people you are with, and this goes a long way in building trust and friendship. Pick up the phone: Sometimes we get so busy, we forget to reach out to others – be that our friends, parents or siblings.
“Put down the phone: To truly relate to one another, we need to connect, and this requires us to pay attention to each other.” 159
GUT, CAMERA, ACTION LUIS MUNANA Luis Munana’s journey has taken him from his hometown of Rundu to the Big Brother Africa house and on to London, where he was the first Namibian male model to walk the runway at London Fashion Week.
hese experiences, as well as his work as a television presenter and producer, came because Luis hasn’t been afraid to go against the grain and trust his instincts.
seen in my life. So the plan was to get good grades because it would open doors to the future. MYD: Were you always very goal oriented? LM: Yes, that’s one thing I can tell you for sure. I always wanted career change and to see the world.
MYD: Luis, before we talk about where you come from, tell us about your successes. There are really some incredible achievements in your life. LM: My mom taught me not to talk about myself like that, not to brag, but for the interview’s sake I guess I have to say something. I don’t want to box myself into a specific industry or just one thing that I do, but to the world I am an international model, a TV producer and an events organiser – those are some of the titles. And a financial analyst, if you’d have me go into the corporate world.
MYD: Tell us about the career change. How did you become a model? LM: There’s this thing called ‘season’ in the South African fashion industry. It happens twice in a year when international clients go to Cape Town to shoot. There are so many clients, there are jobs and castings, there are models and there are bookers, agents and scouts. It was summer, I was in shorts, strolling down the streets and I was approached by a booker who wanted to sign me. I said no in the first year. I said no in the second year, then the third year came and I was struggling to pay for my schooling. I was working as a waiter to get money for textbooks and to pay for school and, since I needed the extra income, I thought, “Why not just do it?” Also, seeing that this was the third year in a row that they’d approached me, I thought, “Why not just give it a shot?” From then on, I was meeting clients, flying to Durban, flying to Joburg for jobs, and the rest is history.
MYD: What was your childhood like? ML: Believe it or not, I was an introvert. I was that kid who was always helping the teacher, writing down the names of the naughty kids. I was class captain. I come from a very Christian family. Automatically, we had to adapt and fall in line because as the preacher’s kid, you had to lead a life that set an example for others. It came quite naturally. People from church surrounded us and at home we had a good upbringing. I mean, my parents did the best they could.
MYD: What was the response like from your family? LM: Mmm, let me not say they’ve accept it fully, but they’re learning to cope with it. They’re learning to take it one day at a time. Obviously no African parent wants their son doing this, even more so when they have a qualification in finance. So, ja, they are learning to cope.
MYD: Very often though, people will rebel against having that much pressure placed on them at an early age. How did you stay true to your goals? LM: I’ve always known that there is something bigger out there and I’ve always known that you have to take the next step. The plan was to do well in school, get good grades and go to Windhoek eventually. After Windhoek, the next step was to go to South Africa. After South Africa, it was to go to the States or Europe. That was always the plan. I’ve always known that I would end up somewhere international, be it in business or something else. My plan was always to go see the world, explore, meet new people, because there were so many things I saw on TV that I hadn’t
MYD: How do you deal with the fact that it’s difficult for them? LM: It wasn’t easy at first because, at some point, we were not really on speaking terms. I just tell myself it’s a means to an end, it’s part of the puzzle. I tell myself to think about the bigger picture.
MYD: You’re the most followed male in Namibia on social media. How much of a responsibility does that bring? LM: Since we are on a public platform, we have to watch what we post because no matter what you say, there are people watching, people following, people listening. You drive certain perceptions by the things you post and the things you say, so if you are using that platform to tear someone down, you are automatically giving an instruction to thousands of people that are following you to do the same thing. We need to be responsible. It’s really that simple. We need to remember that this person you are trying to tear down or whoever you are commenting on negatively is someone’s child. You don’t know what struggles they are facing. People hide behind social media, but you don’t know what struggles they’re experiencing. MYD: What advice would you have for anybody looking to fulfill their passion but not sure of what their passion is? LM: I’d say there is one thing that we have all been given – that’s the gift of free will. Free will is your instinct, your gut. Usually, as human beings, there is a little voice inside of us, talking to us and telling us that this is wrong, this is right. But, as we grow up, there’s noise. The noise starts to come from your parents, from your teachers, from your elders, and then there is too much noise and you start to forget who you are inside. My advice would be that you have to connect to that voice, you have to go with your gut. Your gut is never wrong, trust me. So my advice would be to listen to your gut, listen to your instinct, because that’s your GPS, that’s your compass – it leads you in the right direction.
“Listen to your gut, listen to your instinct, because that’s your GPS, that’s your compass – it leads you in the right direction.” 163
A PASSIONATE ADVENTURE:
hat do you do when something as important as an entire species is standing at the edge of a cliff ready to tumble to extinction at any given second? Do you stand by and watch or do you rally, roar, riot, rush, run and ride to save them?
“The idea of wilderness needs no defense. It only needs more defenders.” - Edward Abbey Venture Media’s initiative, The RMB Namibia Ride for Rhinos is an annual cycling tour that takes place in the Torra Conservancy in Damaraland. The tour, which completed its third year in 2017, is aimed at raising funds and awareness for the plight of Namibia’s black rhino population, the special desert-adapted subspecies Diceros bicornis bicornis. The tour brings together twenty avid mountain-bikers and conservation enthusiasts on a four-day trip through the rugged Damaraland wilderness. Sponsored by RMB Namibia, with support from CYMOT and Wilderness
Safaris, to date, the RMB Namibia Ride for Rhinos has raised almost a million Namibian dollars in both cash and equipment for Save the Rhino Trust Namibia (SRT). Along with financial and logistical support, the RMB Namibia Ride for Rhinos event has created a platform for Namibians, corporates, individuals and concerned citizens to brainstorm ideas that will help curb the poaching epidemic and raise awareness of the difficulties faced by the Save the Rhino Trust (SRT) rangers in their daily lives. Sitting around a campfire each evening like our forefathers, completely immersed in nature, with “civilisation” far away, these cyclists discuss a series of very important topics that are pertinent to the future of black rhinos in our country, such as the debate over the legalised sale of rhino horn, the legal ownership of black rhino, the involvement of local communities on both sides of the poaching struggle and the influence that tourism has on rhino conservation. Upon starting the initiative, Venture Media realised that it would only be
possible through the combined efforts of a wonderful group of people, all in search of a solution to save the rhino. With financial support, RMB Namibia helped get the initiative off the ground and allowed us to turn it into the enormous success it is today. Wilderness Safaris, heading up the logistics of the tour and host of the final night’s accommodation, is integral to every step of the breathtaking experience. CYMOT’s MTB expertise and support made sure that the adventure kept going, despite the rugged terrain. And Venture Media? Well, at the end of the day all we want to do is to tell stories, so we facilitate, organise and bring this brilliant group of people and companies together. We strive to inspire. And most of all we make the connections between those who want to help and those who need it and insure that this all-important conversation continues beyond the fireside debates. Compared to the challenges faced by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and organisations such as SRT, our job seems easy. Those organisations face the real challenges, and the criticism
light on the problem and the issues at hand as brightly and for as long as possible. One thing every participant in this adventure for conservation will tell you is that a passion to take up the fight for nature comes from deep inside. You have to feel it. Feel the dread. Feel the dire consequence. And then you have to feel the need to stand up and do something. Feel the passion. Rally, roar, riot, rush, run, rage, or ride on a bicycle to save them. So here are the facts…
that comes with the task and its inevitable failures. They have a tough job, but those of us who can exert ourselves physically, or have cash or time to spare can help. We can keep talking. We can facilitate the conversation. We can keep shining
During the 1970s an increase in poaching and a period of severe drought lead to a steep decline in the desert-adapted species of the region, including the black rhino. As there were no anti-poaching systems in place at the time and conservation efforts in the region were negligible to non-existent, the population of black rhinos reached a drastic and dangerous low. And so, in 1982, SRT was created to save the species from the brink of extinction. The trust applied an unconventional but effective method of anti-poaching: They hired the poachers! By employing members of the community who were believed to be part of the poaching activities and providing them with more secure livelihoods by working as wildlife guards, SRT enjoyed tremendous success. Today, after more than 30
years of interminable efforts, the black rhino population has rebounded, but the threat remains, and though SRT and its partners are working tirelessly to protect rhinos, the species isn’t as tough as its skin makes it seem. They’re not bulletproof or immune to torture. This is their last true stronghold. Their bunker. And it’s under attack. During the RMB Namibia Ride for Rhinos, when the dust, and sometimes blood, of the day’s adventures had been washed off, the group was joined by the most important members of the initiative, the SRT rangers. Around the soft glow of the campfire they tell us of their adventures, misadventures, and of their reality. They speak of spending 21 days in the harsh Namibian sun, following these prehistoric creatures and keeping track of where their spoor is crossed with that of an intruder’s. Covering an area of more than one million hectares, with no national park status and few fences to keep anyone out, it is an almost impossible task. These campfire talks unveil the truth behind the facts and figures, of the teams leading the charge, of communities torn apart by poaching, and of those who regroup to continue the fight. The campfire talks have also yielded many great results. The fact that the group of cyclists are joined by SRT rangers throughout the tour has produced inspiring outcomes and lasting partnerships. As Simson UriKhob, SRT’s CEO, has said: “If we all stand together, the rhino will win.”
P O Box 21593, Windhoek Tel +264 61 383 543 email@example.com www.venture.com.na
The next generation
Namibia is a place of great inspiration, where dedicated people are driven to make a difference. At Ongava, our inspiration comes from the land and the life it supports. Our conservation efforts are bold - land reclamation and rehabilitation, reintroduction of wildlife, and the creation of a partnership for the future that is vital for the health of the planet and our souls. Ongava - eco-tourism for the next generation.