John Ekongo “I would like to order the English breakfast for students, please and while you are at it could you include the Oshiikundu instead of my regular coffee? And please make it fast; I have 10 minutes before lectures start. Hope the Oshiikundu will keep me awake, because it’s a crime to yawn in the lecture halls.” And sure enough you get Oshiikundu, well not quite yet but Meme Mahangu is also the main ingredient of this traditional breakfast. I suppose alongside it three slices of bread with fish fingers, and welcome to University of Namibia Dining Hall – the most caring and compassionate institution for students as long as you can fork out N$12 a day whether you are a vegetarian or not. Don’t even ask what the hell is meme Mahangu. It’s your breakfast, take it and eat it, be happy and jolly. It’s quite funny that the lecturers see it as lack of breakfast. Apparently students yawn and collapse in class due to hunger cramps – I was at Unam and I never had breakfast but I surely did not collapse and my doctor can prove that. But again well-qualified Unam dieticians thought otherwise and who am I to argue? I don’t have any PhD in diets and English breakfast methods and practical approaches. However, obviously to the students it means that they have to fork out an extra couple of thousand bucks for the payment of Meme Mahangu and fish fingers and this means more debts whichever way you look at it. With the university management always struggling with students to pay their academic fees, they have completely gone off the radar. It is as if they just add fuel to the fire, which means more fights and more finger pointing. At the end of the year please pay your debts the amount of N$8 040 per annum including N$2 360 for breakfast or you will not be allowed to write your end-of-year exams. The question students themselves have raised is that they cannot afford the compulsory breakfast, in a city environment, and which is no different from what I eat every day at my village in the rural areas except for occasional fish finger and the liver patties (I must admit, those are really delicious). Some not very serious lecturer saw someone yawn in class and decided he or she was hungry. So there he goes to lobby and boom breakfast is on the poor students’ table. I bet many students want to know who these lecturers are. Recently over 800 students signed a petition objecting to the compulsory meal, introduced with the intention to make them more attentive during morning lessons, after some of them were reported to yawn loudly because they attended lectures on empty stomachs. However, management does not want to hear any of the nonsense talk as some administrators came to call it, but the question remains here who is fooling who. At least we know that the university has 1 080 students who reside in the dormitories and if they are all to eat the compulsory supposed to be nutritious meal at the cost of N$12 a day, then Unam brings in a hefty N$12 960 every morning for as long as the academic period is on. Now please do the math and tell me again does the university really exhibit signs of compassion? Maybe for the so-called stomach but not for the extra money that the students will have to fork out when billing time comes. It’s a moneymaking scheme and perhaps let’s call a spade a spade – but the truth always hurts, that we all know. What baffles me is that students are saying they are not complaining about the noble intentions, but they insist that they do not get billed if they have not had the breakfast. But then, who would eat the breakfast anyway, if it is not compulsory? In the meantime while we moan and groan, breakfast is served, not English breakfast but Unam breakfast, consisting of you know what. Eewa!
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