By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Ex-convicts should rehabilitate themselves from the evils of criminality if they are to make a sensible and substantive contribution to nation building. So said Nangolo Mbumba, Minister of Education, last week. He addressed a number of former convicts, now members of Criminals Return Into Society (CRIS), in Khomasdal as part of a family day and the independence celebrations tomorrow. “The Namibian society should also hold out a helping hand in support of those who have fallen prey to the social evils in the country and ended up in jail. We can all help do so because most of us have been in jail and have been refugees in the not so distant past during the liberation struggle. We know what this sort of life can mean,” said Mbumba. He went on and encouraged the former convicts to improve their own lives by doing something concrete for themselves in everyday life. “Stop thinking back at a criminal life and become decent and law abiding citizens with unquestionable attitudes and actions for your own benefit. It is imperative that the spirit for a better life remains as your guiding ways towards achieving your own life’s goals. Independence provides us all with golden opportunities and chances to organize and develop ourselves into a strong nation,” he said. Mbumba also warned against decadency with regard to foreign cultures with their influences on Namibians in different ways. “There is nothing wrong with being poor, nor is there nothing wrong in imitating others. However, we should be very careful specifically of the influences of television soap operas in which actors wilfully and without a wink of an eye get rid of their clothes, and swearing infinitely. These things have a profound influence on our way of living. We should try and steer clear of imitating such actions in which the actors take their money and run when the cameras stop rolling,” Mbumba warned. Michaele Hubschle, the director of CRIS, assured the Government that she and her board would go out of their way to accommodate ex-prisoners. “CRIS started its operations in 2000 with up to 80 students passing through its ranks per year. Right now we have 10 full time students at the Khomasdal Vocational Training Centre and ten others at the Franco-Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC). Not only do we concentrate on ex-convicts, but we also focus on the destitute in the society as a moral and social duty and obligation to the nation,” Hubschle said.