I am very fortunate to have been asked to participate in a journey to Namibia to work with a project for enhancing local democracy through internet. I have travelled with Annika Nyström and John Nises whom both work at the “Arbetsmarknads- och integrationskontoret” in the Falun municipality. (Labour Market and Integration Office.) This is a diary of my visit.
Here at long last! It took us about 30 hours to get from Dalarna till our hotel in Namibia. First we flew to London, then to Johannesburg and then to Windhoek. After having to put up a bit of a struggle to be let into the country, we picked our rental car up and drove the 40 kilometers to our hotel in Windhoek. The drive was quite spectacular and I felt incredibly excited about being on another continent so far from home. This is the view from our car window (note the blue flowers):
Tomorrow morning we are starting of early for the last part of our journey, driving north to Tsumeb.
Well rested we sat out early on the last part of our journey towards our goal Tsumeb, which entailed a 400 kilometer car journey. The road stretched out straight ahead during the whole journey and we were able to keep a good steady speed throughout. Even though the landscape was quite similar all the way, I felt like I couldn’t get enough of looking at it. So different and so beautiful. We didn’t see very many animals, but managed to get glimpses of baboons, a wild boar, and springbuck. There were cows, sheep and goats grazing along almost the whole stretch. We had lunch at a most tranquil and beautiful place along the road. Although we were quite pleased we were not there during the hours of dusk, when the malaria mosquito is active as the place was one where it probably would thrive. The trip was a very positive experience and when we arrived at the hotel I was astounded by the hotel and the small apartment I was to stay in. Very comfortable and very tastefully furnished. Annika keeps calling the hotel complex a reservoir, and this is what it feels like a bit.
Today we have had our first proper working day here in Tsumeb. It has been a most interesting and educational experience. We have visited the Tsumeb Teacher’s Resource Centre. Here we met up with our hosts Stella Imalwa, Strategic Liaison Officer and Alfredo Adriano, Teachers Resource Centre. After various presentations and discussions we had lunch in town and thereafter Stella took us to visit COSDEC – The Community Skills Developement Centre. Here young adults get training which hopefully will help them to gain access into the job market. The unemployment rate in Namibia is at the moment + 51 per cent. The courses offered at the centre are bricklaying and plastering, office administration, welding, building maintenance and leather tanning. Marianne Hashipara showed us the center, introduced us to classes and students and informed us about the organization and future of the centre. After that we visited NIMT (The Namibian Institute of Mining and Technology). This is a college of technology where students get practical and theoretical skills which very likely will get them employment in the future. The “mining” in the name is a bit misleading as it doesn’t directly have anything to do with mining in training the students; although many will gain employment in the mining industry. The name is a rest from old. The students are at the college for four years and mix campus education with practical work. The principal of the school Mr Jason is a man with great visions for the future, and we were very impressed with both the school and his fantastically positive and optimistic attitude; also by the way he felt the college could make a difference for the future of the whole nation. We finished our working day with a visit at the Polytechnic of Namibia, a place for distant learning, where you can get degrees in for example accounting, finance, administration, chain management, transport management, international business and many, many more. Here we met another energetic and visionary person Mauta Ester. She told told us with pride of the school.
Today we have visited schools and in particular the computer labs of the schools. The first school vi visited was Francis Galton Primary School. The student computers here were not connected to the internet and what the cildren mostly did was learning about different Mocrosoft Office products. Computers was not a compulsary subject and the children had to pay a small fee to join the classes.
Thereafter we visited Opawa; a school formed in 1904. Here we met up with science and maths teacher Calvin Itungi, whom also was allocated IT responsibilities. Mr Itungi has been invited to participate in our project and will be coming to Sweden at the end of Nowember. This school had a large computer lab with many internet connected computers although the connection was not very good. The computers were partly used for teaching other subjects.
The next school we visited was the friendship school of the Falu Fri-gymnasium, Otjikoto Senior Secondary School, and some of the teachers we met there have visited Falun. This school hade some internet connected computers, but they were few and in bad shape.
After visiting the schools Stella took us throughout the township, the Soweto. Very recently a lot of people has moved to Tsumeb from other places and they build sheds on grounds in the outskirts of town. Stella also showed us some positive examples of where people had built new houses for them selves while living in a shed. The municipality had helped people with loans if a person was able to save one dollar a day (about one skr). Then they had showed themselves credit worthy.
In the afternoon we visited an orphanage and learning centre called Tov – hebrew for hope. The centre was run by the fantastic Mr Edward Amathila. Mr Amathila is to be invited Sweden in March. He spoke warmly about using internet technology as a means of fighting poverty.
Our last visit of the day was at the Culture Centre. Here we were able to see some traditional dwellings of the different tribes of Namibia.
We have today agreed on a suggested plan for the continuation of the project and the suggestions on which individuals are to visit Sweden, and when. Me, Annika and John will be going back in March. Three people will be visiting Falun at the end of November and another delegation of three will come in March.
After having visited Cassi in her office we had a meeting with Stella and Alfredo concerning our suggested plan and they were positive. We were then recieved in the municipality and we got to meet the mayor, the deputy mayor and the mayor assistant. The meeting was quite formal but with a very friendly and warm atmospere. Stella and Alfredo were also there. Our ideas for the continuation of the project was presented and it was approved of by the officials. At the municipality office we also got to meet the head of the health department.
In the afternoon we visited the Artistic Performance Arts Centre. This was an incredible experience. Here young people spend their time after school and take lessons in music, drawing, and dance. The centre was like a small village with little round houses in which the lessons took place. We saw keyboard, guitar, drums, violin and harp being taught. The dance classes were quite incredible – girls in one class and boys in another. Both learning traditional African dance.
In the evening we were invited to a goodbye meal at Hotel with some of the municipality officials. We have been incredibly well taken care of during the whole of our stay.
We checked out early to leave Tsumeb for Etosha National Park. Quite soon after we had passed through the Von Lindequist Gate we saw a giraffe on the side of the road. After having had lunch in Namutoni we drove along the Etosha Pan stopping at a waterhole now and then, We saw elan, elephant, zebra and jackal. After having travelled for about 140 km we reached the end of the pan and our hotel. The hotel complex was lovely and there was a lit up waterhole where one could sit and watch the animals coming to drink. There we saw two big rhinos chase a lion away.
At twenty past six in the morning we sat of on a safari excursion. Apart from us three there was a Belgian couple and the driver in the car. It was dark when we left, but as soon as we were on the road a betiful read sun began to rise. It was quite cold but lucklily there were warm blankets to get wrapped up in. The safari jeep was open on both sides. The Belgian man was a bird spotter and the driver was kind enough to stay every time we saw a bird so that it could be looked up, and and photographed.
Apart from all the birds and among others we saw: Two lion brothers resting together at a waterhole, two giant elephants lying on the ground still asleep beside their awoken friend, a variety of cloved animals i all sizes (elan, springbuck, blackfaced impala), zebras in abundance in a long row on their way to drink, the uncommon cape fox and two massive vultures at the top of a tree.
After the safari we sat of for Windhoek and our last night in Namibia. We ha a lovely last dinner to gather strength for the long trip home. My travelling companions Annika and John: