By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Libertina Amathila, has urged all Namibians to be inclusive and accommodative of the previously disadvantaged and marginalized members of society, particularly the San community. The deputy prime minister was officiating at the Women’s Action for Development (WAD) Oshikoto Field Day for 2006 held last week. According to Amathila, as a nation Namibians are urgently and vigorously reminded to address the socio-economic disparities caused by under-development and exclusion. Last year, Cabinet directed the office of the Prime Minister, under the chairpersonship of Amathila, to spearhead the San Development programme. Since then, numerous small projects have been started. Last week, 100 San women from Bravo and Tsintsabis settlements in the Oshikoto region received certificates in various fields of development. The training comes after the deputy prime minister’s visits to different San communities across the country last year. She identified Bravo as one area where people needed training in development and management. “My hope is that the trainees will go back and make use of these skills to make sure that they become self-reliant and forget about this dependency syndrome,” she said. She added that government alone cannot achieve the objective of ensuring that the San people become self-sustaining without the continued technical support from development partners. Community Developer and Executive Director of WAD, Veronica de Klerk, acknowledged the tremendous challenges existing in the two settlements in terms of upliftment and development. WAD and Agrifutura Training Institution were commissioned by Amathila to conduct various training programmes to uplift the living standards of the San people at Bravo and to complement earlier interventions by the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement and other stakeholders. Sponsored by the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, 80 San people from Bravo and 20 from Tsintsabis were trained in bread- and cake-baking, needlework (production of school uniforms and bags), computer literacy, effective project management and marketing, hygiene, nutrition, family planning and AIDS awareness. This was phase one of the project. Phase two of the training will concentrate on advanced computer literacy, hygiene and soap production for Bravo, self defence training for women (how to circumvent violence but not counteract violence), and nutrition and vegetable production. From the first training, De Klerk says it has become clear that the neglect of the San for so many years is costing the State more than a fortune in terms of lost economic potential and in terms of vast amounts of money which is now needed to catch up on that backlog. She added, the misuse of the San by the colonial government during the liberation war imbedded an unfair prejudice with the majority of the Namibian population. This prejudice is only starting to moderate now. She urged the nation to do something and not stand accused of still persisting in putting the San people on display at the pleasure of photographers and tourists as cultural objects from ancient times. Instead, Namibians should strive to recognize the special qualities, the brilliance and dedication that are locked up in so many young people as experienced during her organization’s training interventions. One challenge faced by the San people is the inability to acquire identification documents. This has made it impossible for them to claim social pensions or capitalize on social security when they find jobs. They can also not apply for loans from commercial institutions to buy property. Another major constraint identified is that the San language is under-developed and cannot easily express modern technological development. Generally, the San people in Namibia are neglected. Mediums of communications such as radio and television receptions in most of their residing areas are lacking, hence missing out on important pronouncements by government to improve their general knowledge. While government and other stakeholders are making efforts to liberate the San from under-development, De Klerk called on the San people themselves to make a determined effort to walk out from under the shadows of the past and to develop a burning desire to courageously move into the mainstream of development in the country. “The time has come for Action! All of us should now assist with the noble task of pooling our resources to uplift them (the San), with a keen sense of determination,” she said. Old Mutual Namibia Limited and Nedbank Namibia Limited sponsored the field day.
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