No life outside of sports
No life outside of sports

No life outside of sports

Namibian Para-athletes have little or nothing to fall back on, says the president of the NNPC, Johannes Litwayi.
Limba Mupetami


The president of the Namibia National Paralympic Committee (NNPC), Johannes Litwayi, says outside the barriers of sport and the comfortable life it gives, what is notable is unfortunate misery and difficulties for disabled people.

Litwayi, who is a former weightlifter, says Para-athletes deserve employment in any sector and that priority should be accorded to them or else the supreme law of the country is being violated.

He believes the factors that keep Paralympians from securing employment in the country includes inaccessible facilities within the private and public sectors.

“This can be in the form of buildings, or reading material in Braille format, which are few.

“Discrimination is also alive when it comes to promotional posts, both in public and private entities.”

He says parents and guardians of disabled children either refuse to send them to school, or only come to the realisation late that they need to send the disabled person to school, usually when they are already over the age limit.

Litwayi emphasises that there is no provision in the Labour Act that calls for a disabled person to be given guidance and that there is stigma which is a stumbling block that forces people to keep their disabled family members confined at home.

He says none of it is their fault. “Very little, anyway. The problems largely fall at the door of society, for not thinking we can excel at work, for not adapting buildings to suit the disabled.

“Other times, it's perceptions. People staring at disabled people when they go to the supermarket. We also struggle with lack of accessible transport, bad stadiums, welfare cuts, cruel jokes, and even physical violence.

“People are suffering, that's the reality of it and if I can use my identity as an athlete to help change things, I will and do,” added Litwayi.

He further said that Paralympic athletes are human beings just like any other person and that the only difference is that they are disabled and that is not by choice. “The constitution, Labour Act and international treaties state clearly that no person should discriminated against in terms of their physical being. Furthermore, the Constitution of the Republic of Namibia calls for affirmative action, which is a policy that intends to leverage the differences that exist among the inhabitants of the country by looking at the challenges,” he explained further.

Do more

He encouraged Para-athletics to do vocational training, but admitted that the challenge is in admitting them as the criteria are not favourable.

“Also, there is no will from the Paralympic athletes to go for vocational studies due to fear of victimisation. Most vocational structures are not friendly for disabled persons and this makes people not to enrol as well,” he said.

Litwayi also said that the NPC continues to motivate all Paralympic athletes through organising committees in different regions where the skills of these people are utilised and their talent is identified. “However, the wish is to have centres where all these individuals could be assembled and exposed to different types of work opportunities in the country,” said Litwayi.

NNPC's Memory Kahlari added that they don't have any athletes who are employed except for Paralympic gold medallist Johanna Benson, who works at a fish processing company in Walvis Bay.

“The only other two athletes, namely Ananias Shikongo and Johannes Nambala, successfully completed a course in holistic massage at Nomad African Spa. The rest of the Para-athletes are really not doing anything, neither are they employed,” Kahlari emphasised.


Namibian Sun 2023-03-29

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