Friday 27 April 2018 NEW ERA 10 Youth unemployment is everyone’s business Our economy is not in the best shape right now and the youth, especially new graduates, seem to be the most affected by what we hope is a temporary wave of ruin. Recently, a deputy director in the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation Nhlanhla Lupahla, during a public dialogue on perspectives of unemployed graduates, said the country currently has 67 000 unemployed graduates. In all likelihood, this figure excludes those who recently graduated from the country’s top universities – including those who graduated from NUST in a ceremony held yesterday. Earlier this week, health minister Bernard Haufiku was at pains to tell parliament of his ministry’s inability to recruit new nurses due to budgetary constraints. He confirmed, though, that the ministry has vacancies and thus needs nurses. Many medical doctors trained abroad on government funding are still awaiting for their internship placement as is the requirement. A local daily reported not too long ago that some of those unemployed medical doctors have resorted to selling imported Chinese clothes as a means of survival. Unemployed graduate teachers held demonstrations last month to demand that they be recruited by removing semi-qualified teachers from public schools. The ministry of education responded that it has contractual obligations towards those currently employed by it and would thus not get rid of them at the behest of new graduates. Simply put, we are at the crossroads. And part of this challenge is the traditional overreliance on government for all of life’s trials. Where is the private sector in all this? The sector is not playing enough roles of creating jobs, growing the economy or even spending. Government has to carry the burden on all these fronts. Dependence on government for life’s challenges strips the private sector of its moral obligation in providing aid to various aspects of Namibian life. The sector can thus not fold hands and wait for government to recover financially, while the whole of the country is in the doldrums. Government already plays the role of getting young people educated by providing education from pre-primary to university. To again expect it to carry the cross of providing jobs is too selfish a posture. Overall, young people will always need someone to hold their hand – whether it’s government or the private sector. When an economy is not too active, self-reliance is a far-fetched figment of the imagination. Even those graduating from vocational training will find it hard to work for themselves in an economy that is not producing too many opportunities. This is the time to revive the spirit of being our brother’s keeper. The entire nation needs to come to the party insofar as creating opportunities for the unemployed is concerned. We have a duty of care to which we must all oblige. ‘It is enough. The children should now have rest’ •Annarine Jacobs These were the last words of Hendrik Witbooi (1830 – 1905), on 29 October 1905, after he was wounded during guerilla war operations around Vaalgras, // Kharas Region. These visionary words keep me awake to ponder on what it could have meant to the offspring, descendants and Namibian nation at large, in an independent Namibia. The Founding President Dr Sam Nujoma, recognised Hendrik Witbooi, with other national heroes at the inauguration of the Heroes Acre in Windhoek on 26 August 2002. In his inaugural statement of Heroes Acre, Dr Nujoma, said that “Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi was the first African leader who took up arms against the German imperialists and foreign occupiers in defence of our land and territorial integrity. We, the new generation of the Land of the Brave, are inspired by Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi’s revolutionary action in combat against the German imperialists who colonized and oppressed our people. To his revolutionary spirit and his visionary memory we humbly offer our honour and respect.” The revolutionary spirit and visionary memory of Hendrik Witbooi require us the offspring to highlight some of the milestones achieved by him in his pursuit to free Namibia from the colonial yoke. When coming into contact with German imperialists, Hendrik Witbooi immediately recognized the danger posed by these invaders and fiercely opposed them. He warned other tribal chiefs, with whom he had differences, that their differences were nothing compared to the dangers of German invasion. He wrote to other Nama chiefs to stand together in unity against the German imperialists’ invasion in the following words ““Come brothers, let us together oppose this danger which threatens to invade our Africa … The emperor of Germany has no business in Africa whatsoever.” Hendrik Witbooi took the matter of land occupation to authorities in the then British South Africa. He appealed to the British governor of the Cape Colony that conflict and war would be imminent, if Germans continued to occupy their lands and settlements by force. In his words, “We cannot tolerate that. We did not give our land away, and what has not been given by the owner, cannot be taken by another person...” These were words of Hendrik Witbooi already around the 1890s, which speaks volumes of his vision for Africa, foreign policy, conflict resolution and mediation, on colonialism and Pan-Africanism, long before the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was born on 25 May 1963. During the scramble for Africa around 1885, in one of his meetings with Curt von Francois on 9th June Our Founding Father Sam Nujoma availed all platforms to remind the Namibian nation not to forget sacrifices made by these national heroes. 1892, he declared to von Francois that the great Namaqualand belonged to them, “This part of Africa is the realm of the red chiefs …” The arbitrary distribution of land should therefore be dealt with very carefully and with the sensitivity it deserves. When looking at Naukluft, the area regarded as Sperrgebiet, which was a no-go area until recently, and tourists route, is where Hendrik Witbooi surrendered himself to German imperialist forces and signed a peace treaty on 15 September 1894. Conservancies could be set up for the youth and offspring of Hendrik Witbooi in that area. This is to promote the culture and share the history of his legacy. Hoornkranz is another place where the first bullets were shot. I visualize a shrine of Outa !Nanseb at this site. All Namibians irrespective of race and ethnicity could come and display and celebrate these heroes. Such places will instil unity and appreciation and acceptance of differences, and unitedly strive for economic freedom. This is where we need to tell the nation about the bloodshed that watered our freedom, and to instil the lost dignity, self-actualisation, belongingness and worth to our children. The offspring of Hendrik Witbooi have been branded and labelled as drunkards, lazy and without morals. But Witbooi taught strict discipline, and “forbade his people to use alcohol”. He “… separate(d) his soldiers from their womenfolk for two weeks before setting out on military campaigns”. Hendrik Witbooi has been projected as having a complex nature and his actions as relentless, violent, and cunning, but yet merciful, religious and forgiving. Some writers said that “the price that leadership brings with itself is that a … leader’s life always finds itself scrutinized, criticized and magnified”. Today’s leaders should take a leaf out of this statement. Our conclusion is that Hendrik Witbooi’s legacy is not properly celebrated. Nor are his offspring adequately compensated and rewarded for their contribution to the struggle for liberation. My appeal therefore is for the offspring of Hendrik Witbooi to benefit from his legacy and rich historical knowledge that is archived in the National Archives in Namibia and the world. They should be assisted to study history, geology, medical fields, traditional and herbal plants, engineering and many other fields. When witnessing graduation ceremonies of UNAM, NUST and IUM yearly, it is a pitiful picture to see the visible absence of the offspring of Hendrik Witbooi. Hendrik Witbooi said to his warriors, “It is enough. The children should now have rest,” meaning, that the struggle was long and bitter, and that the harvesting period is now, through economic emancipation and participation. Let my children also take part and enjoy the fruits we fought and died for. * Annarine Jacobs holds a BA Political Science and Psychology degree from the University of Namibia (2004) and is from the Gaob Hendrik Witbooi clan, / Khowese //Aes.
Friday 27 April 2018 NEW ERA 11 FEATURE Photos: Emmency Nuukala Dr Shonag Mackenzie Registered nurse Fungai Bhera Makena Henguva Addressing access to sexual reproductive services holistically •Alvine Kapitako WINDHOEK - It is often said that older nurses are the reason young people shy away from approaching clinics for contraceptives, and to get sexual education and associated counselling. These services, called sexual reproductive services, are offered free of charge at the state health facilities, but very few young people use them. New Era gauged the views of those at the forefront of sexual reproductive health on the trends in accessing these services at health facilities. “It is a little bit difficult for young people to access sexual reproductive services because the nurses are not friendly and they do not provide sufficient information on contraceptives,” youth activist, Makena Henguva of the African Youth Adolescence Network said in a recent interview with New Era. The organisation provides sexual reproductive services to young people who fear possible tongue or eye-lashing at state health facilities. “The reality is young people are having sex and we cannot shy away from that,” said Henguva. Young people should know where to access sexual reproductive services and empower themselves with information on preventing pregnancies and contracting sexually transmitted illnesses, including HIV. “The moment that you tell a young person that they are too young to be having sex they will not come back to that clinic because they feel that you are judging them,” said Henguva, who noted that this tends to be the attitude of some nurses at state health facilities. Generally, elderly nurses tend to judge young people who ask for condoms or other contraception services, Henguva explained. “But it’s not all of them and we don’t blame them because sometimes the workload is too much,” added Henguva. She also demystified perceptions that a young person who goes to a health facility for contraception is promiscuous. “That is not always the case. Sometimes these young people just want to protect themselves,” Henguva added. In most cases, young women and girls are the ones who are misjudged for seeking sexual reproductive services. “In most cases, it is the ladies who access contraceptives. The partners only come when they want to help girlfriends to get the morning after pill (emergency contraceptive). It is really okay to access contraceptives because whether you do or not people are still going to judge you,” said Henguva. Meanwhile, a registered nurse at the Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (NAPPA), Fungai Bhera said young people, regardless of their age, should be allowed access to contraceptives. “If you see a young person coming to the health facility for contraceptives that means that sex is involved. Sex brings about pregnancy if it’s not with contraception,” said Bhera. NAPPA Clinic is youth-friendly. The legal age for accessing contraceptives at the clinic is 14 years, Bhera explained. However, children as young as 10 years are not refused this service if they seek for it. “If a minor is involved in big people’s things they are a mature minor,” said Bhera, explaining why even children as young as 10 should not be excluded from sexual reproductive services. At NAPPA, young people are more comfortable to seek sexual reproductive services, added Bhera. “Most of them are free to come to us because they know that they can be helped. But you still find those who are shy but as they come for their follow-ups they become free,” said Bhera. Bhera said the youth believe that older nurses are not hearing them. “It is only that there hasn’t been much sensitisation (on the part of older nurses on how to handle young people accessing sexual reproductive services). There is training going on and with time it will be a thing of the past,” said Bhera. Young people accessing sexual reproductive services at NAPPA Clinic are taught about family planning and how to prevent sexually transmitted illnesses. “We also tell them that if they are not yet sexually involved they should consider waiting because there are many things involved, especially in love relations,” said Bhera. On a busy day, Bhera and her colleagues attend to 40 to 50 young people between 14 and 24. “Some days are busier than others,” Bhera added. Dr Shonag Mackenzie, a senior lecturer at the University of Namibia’s Health Sciences campus, expressed sentiments similar to Bhera, saying that a person as young as 13 years old should be using contraceptives if they are sexually active. “We recommend that anybody who doesn’t want to get pregnant and that is mostly young women should be using contraceptives. So even if you’re very young person and you’ve had your periods you can get pregnant. You’d obviously prefer them not to be sexually active at 13 but if they’re sexually active and they’ve had their periods then they should be using contraception,” said Mackenzie referring to the high teenage pregnancy in the country. The national teenage pregnancy rate is 19 percent. The highest teenage pregnancy rates are observed in Kunene, Omaheke, Kavango East and West as well as Zambezi regions at 38.9 percent, 36.3 percent, 34 percent and 28.1 percent, respectively. The high teenage pregnancy in Namibia is multifactorial, Mackenzie added. Further, she stated that there are many misconceptions among adults and children that contraception is bad for women. “Culturally, contraception is still not accepted in a lot of places. So, we have to have that general understanding that contraception is not good,” said Mackenzie. As a result, there is need to change education on contraception, she stated. “We have to start seeing contraception as not just about preventing pregnancy but about the health benefits it’s got for women,” she said. Women on contraception are at lower risk uterine fibroids, among others, Mackenzie pointed out. “We need to have contraceptives at all clinics locally and countrywide. There is still a problem with access because we haven’t had enough contraceptives,” added Mackenzie. Nurses are being trained on respecting confidentiality, said Mackenzie. This means that even if it is a family member that they are serving with family planning, they may not disclose to other family members, Mackenzie explained. “What we’re doing is part of our training is on respecting confidentiality because they nurses might not think that it applies to their nieces or family. They just sometimes think that if it’s family it’s different,” said Mackenzie. She also stressed that if the nurse does not agree with a child or the daughter of someone they know they cannot go and tell their parents. “And the law is very strict. It allows you to give contraception to a child without the knowledge of their parent or guardian’s consent. The reason the law was written like that was to decrease unwanted pregnancies,” added Mackenzie. The philosophy of the Ministry of Health and Social Services and its donor agencies is “confidentiality is key but nurses have to take a holistic approach”, explained Mackenzie. This means talking to the young girl about the risks involving sexual activity at an early age while also providing the sexual reproductive services. “You have to make sure because we do have sexual abuse. We do have power relationships and some young women are having sex because they’re being forced into sex. I might end up giving her the contraception but referring her to social worker doing other child protection things at the same time because I still don’t want her to get pregnant but I will be trying to protect her as a child,” said Mackenzie.