Namibia Allied Youth Organisation strikes with essay contest

Addressing issues of national concern faced by learners

20 October 2020 | Youth

Enzo Amuele

The Namibia Allied Youth Organisation (Nayo) recently announced the winners of its just-ended Inspiring Through Literature essay contest, which began during Namibia’s first lockdown period on 24 March 2020.

After conducting a background analysis, Nayo observed that a great number of them are talented in writing, but are not allowed to enhance and promote this talent. There is also a lack of libraries and reading material that school children can relate to.

Writers had the opportunity to get busy writing as a means of killing time during the lockdown.

The objectives of the contest were to address issues faced by learners through creative writing, promote creative and critical writing by schoolchildren, increase the amount of locally written material and inspire children with literature written by their peers.

In both the senior (15-19 years) and junior (10-14 years) categories, entrants could choose to write essays that were aligned to any of the themes provided: (1) Social Media and Cyber Bullying (2) Mental Health and Depression (3) Corruption in Namibia (4) Teenage Pregnancy (5) Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and (6) Substance Abuse.

Over 100 entries were received, of which 20 were selected as the final winners. Essays had to comply with the word limit and appropriate grammar. Nayo is working on engaging publishing stakeholders and the ministry of education to assist in printing and distributing the winning essays in a book.

Ebben Mbako, a grade five learner, was euphoric and said he couldn’t contain his happiness upon receiving the congratulatory message. “As an 11-year-old, writing is more than art for me, it is a way in which I express my thoughts, fears and build on knowledge,” said Mbako. Ebben hopes that his essay on Social Media and Cyber Bullying “will teach and be beneficial to many in a good way.”

Another excited 11-year-old, Andelene Izaaks, expressed her gratitude to Nayo for the platform. “I am excited to see what lies ahead of me; it means so much to me, I feel like wanting more of these opportunities,” Izaaks said.

Matriculant William Minnie said being a winner allows him the chance to “reach people and inspire them to share their stories and personal encounters with mental illnesses.” He adds that his writing can “help break the stigma and prove to people that it’s okay to not always be okay but also show them that your mental illness can’t hold you back from reaching your goals.”

A joyful Christine Nuunyango was surprised, as she never expected to win. She had previously taken part in a Southern African Development Community (SADC) essay competition but didn’t win. The 16-year-old learner said she was elated to know that “there are many young Namibian authors out there with so much potential and have the capabilities of writing aspiring books and novels which can be published globally.”

Eliphas Nambahu, a Northcote Private scholar, sees her win as “a chance to encourage other children to embrace their true passion and talent in reading and writing.”

The 14-year-old Kadhila Prosper says she found the opportunity to “use my words to generate an impact on how individuals discern their mental and emotional states.” She is happy that she is now part of “a successful attempt to create a safe space for thoughts on different yet equally important matters through literature.”

Junior Category Winners

Eliphas Nambahu; Aiden Wilhelm; Ebben Mbako; Lailah Hamunyela; Gracia Johannes; Kadhila Prosper.

Senior Category Winners

Romario Shipahu; Lonia Hamalwa; Brandin Muremi; William Minnie; Elao-Letu Hamukonda; Hailey Meyer; Vision Tobias; Magdalena Markus; Etuhole Shishani Mweuta; Rodney Tchisanga; Leena N. Uunona; Christine Nuunyango; Judith Cloete; Jane Brucha.

The non-profit organisation continues to source funds and resources and calls on potential sponsors to come on board to continue carrying out its mandate of providing Namibian youth with opportunities to showcase their talents, to enhance their social impact through mentoring and community development programmes.

PHOTO: CONTRIBUTED

Photo 1: Senior Category Winners

Photo 2: Junior Category Winners

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