San women fight for their own

San women recently shared their own stories to illustrate the many developmental, economic and social issues that continue to plague the San people in Namibia.

14 November 2017 | Social Issues

JANA-MARI SMITH



As more San women become empowered to speak up about the long-standing injustices their communities face, there is concern that the economic woes facing the country and slack government leadership will stall the hard-won progress the communities have attained and worsen already dire conditions.

During a frank discussion hosted by the Women’s Leadership Centre (WLC) last week, 15 San women from around the country took the opportunity to share their own stories to illustrate the many developmental, economic and social issues that continue to plague the San people in Namibia.

Issues cited by the women, all who have participated for the past six years in the WLC programme, Speaking for Ourselves – Voices of San Young, ranged from a lack of or substandard healthcare facilities, education, policing, housing and many other issues, in addition to wide-ranging discrimination from outsiders.

Although all of the women praised the government and NGOs for their help over the years, they agreed that many issues remain unresolved and solutions are urgently needed.

Some of the problems include lack of safe and clean bathrooms in communities.

Women and girls are forced to walk long distances to reach the bathrooms, heightening the risk of rape and other abuses.

One woman claimed that a school at Witvlei has no functioning toilets and children and teachers are forced to relieve themselves in the veld.

Teachers who are unable to speak in the local San languages, as well as a lack of resources and corporal punishment at some schools, lead to high dropout rates, another woman said.

Many women said that ambulance drivers insist on being paid before they agree to take sick people to hospitals and some health and police officers refuse to help because of language barriers.

Local job opportunities for cleaners or gardeners are given to outsiders, denying the San an income in their own communities.

Some of the women complained that drought-relief food parcels are delayed, or spoiled, when they arrive in their communities.

Discrimination against the San is rife.

“The attitude of the people, often government employees, such as the police and nurses and teachers, is really bad. They don’t respect us and they treat us however they want,” Dinyando Patricia told the audience.

Talk to us

Tertu ‘X’aga’ Fernandu, a San activist and co-founder of the //Ana-Jeh San Youth Project, said a critical issue is that the community themselves have had little say in programmes ostensibly designed to help the San.

She also questioned the effectiveness of government departments tasked to help marginalised communities.

“They are claiming that we have a deputy minister for the San people. What has happened since he was appointed as the leader for us? We don’t see anything, we don’t see any development.

“People don’t even tell us how much money is budgeted for projects for the marginalised communities. We don’t know where the money is going. We don’t know about the projects that are there. We don’t know where to go.”

She added that although a lack of funds is cited as a reason for donor and state programmes being halted, the truth is that “these issues have been here with us for so long”.

“It seems to me that so many projects have come to Namibia in the name of the San people, but people don’t consult us. They talk to the leaders, and then the leaders give them authority to do the projects, but it’s not to the benefit of the people, they are creating the projects for their own benefit.”

The lack of government and donor funding has increased anxiety over the future of the San, Fernando said.

“Where are we going now? Where will we get money to help ourselves? We as the San people are standing up trying to do something for ourselves, but now we don’t have the money to do it. When we ask for money, we are told there are no funds.”

We will not give up

Maria Garises, and outspoken San activist from Drimiopsis in the Gobabis area, said the WLC programme has helped her learn about her and her community’s human rights and has strengthened her resolve to fight on behalf of her people.

“Now, I can look people in the eye and talk. I have learned we are all equal.”

Since joining the WLC programme, Garises has become a school board member and has become a facilitator for a San youth group, among many other positions from where she is able to speak on behalf of her community.

She says the she has learned to take pride in her culture and heritage and despite the long and challenging road ahead. “I will not give up. I know my rights and I know that if you don’t talk for yourself, no one will listen.”

Similar News

 

Your trash, my treasure

4 days ago - 20 February 2018 | Social Issues

A number of residents from Tsumeb's Kuvukiland informal settlement spend their days collecting food and sellable items at the municipal dump.Last week Namibian Sun visited...

Hellish road to child support

1 week ago - 15 February 2018 | Social Issues

Pleas by at least ten single mothers for help to trace fathers owing child support went viral last month and highlighted a weak legal structure...

San are tired of handouts

1 week ago - 12 February 2018 | Social Issues

KENYA KAMBOWE A San community at Eenhana is demanding job opportunities, saying that living on handouts is not the way...

Food bank rollout stalls

1 month - 10 January 2018 | Social Issues

Tight budgets have led to delays in expanding the government's food bank programme to other regions since mid-2016 when it was launched in the Khomas...

Janu-worry hits cash loans hard

1 month - 09 January 2018 | Social Issues

It appears to be 'Janu-worry' too for cash-loan businesses, as they have to contend with a high rate of arrears in loan repayments since December,...

Empty pockets at start of school year

1 month - 05 January 2018 | Social Issues

Next week Wednesday, all government and most private schools will open for the new school year and parents, mainly young single mothers, are faced with...

Shelters for street children in the spotlight

1 month - 04 January 2018 | Social Issues

Community activist Rosa Namises believes it is time for the government to tackle the issue of homelessness and go the extra mile to rehabilitate street...

Festival fosters acceptance

1 month - 28 December 2017 | Social Issues

More than 60 young lesbians from eight regions came together for the first ever Namibian Lesbian Festival that was hosted by the Women's Leadership Centre...

Small things make a big difference

1 month - 28 December 2017 | Social Issues

While many families enjoyed Christmas Day with their loved ones at their homes or holiday destinations, a northern businesswoman decided to spend the day at...

'All I want for Christmas is a job'

1 month - 27 December 2017 | Social Issues

For David Simon (42) and many others like him, Christmas Day was just another day standing in the hot sun on a pavement in an...

Latest News

DebMarine prelims to kick off...

20 hours ago | Sports

The DebMarine Namibia Cup kicks off on 3 March countrywide, with clubs in the first and second divisions battling it out to secure a place...

Outjo donkey abattoir off the...

1 day - 23 February 2018 | Agriculture

Plans to build a donkey abattoir in Outjo have folded.Fu-Hai Trading Enterprises, reportedly co-owned by Swakopmund estate agent Shane Quinton Hangula and a Chinese business...

One Africa Television Chief Executive...

1 day - 23 February 2018 | Business

Namibia’s first ever free-to-air, independent TV broadcaster in Namibia, One Africa Television was founded in 2003, the brainchild of Namibian photographer and businessman, the late...

3 Key Social Media Trends...

1 day - 23 February 2018 | Education

Like it or not, you are recruiting in the world of Google. Just as easily as you can go to the Internet to look things...

Union warns private schools

1 day - 23 February 2018 | Labour

JEMIMA BEUKES The Teachers Union of Namibia (TUN) intends to clamp down on fly-by-night private schools that allegedly exploit...

Mwoombola fights back

1 day - 23 February 2018 | Justice

Former health permanent secretary Andreas Mwoombola has launched a two-fold application in the Labour Court, in which he wants to court to either halt his...

Elephants cause havoc

1 day - 23 February 2018 | Environment

Several elephant herds have over the past few weeks caused havoc on farms in the Outjo District, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in...

The Basics of Branding

1 day - 23 February 2018 | Business

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it...

How to Communicate Effectively in...

1 day - 23 February 2018 | Education

Communication is essential for the smooth running of a business, whether it is between colleagues, with a client or with customers.With technology creating a multitude...

Load More