By John Ekongo
Old youth activists of the Namibian National Student Organisation (Nanso) last week met to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the countrywide student strike of 1988, in the capital.
Whilst the meeting was a reflection gathering, it also set modalities in place to revive the once powerful student movement.
The 1988 strike is the only student boycott thus far to have taken place in the country.
The boycott of classes came as a result of rebellious youth who were advocating for the demilitarization of schools by the regime at the time.
During the ’80s, South African authorities fearing a mass recruitment of young people by SWAPO resorted to setting up de-facto military camps near schools as a detriment for young people not to go into exile. Similarly, the South Africa administration also deployed a strategy entitled, “Hearts and minds” campaigns, where they made use of soldiers as teachers.
To this effect, Nanso, which had come into existence four years earlier, organized student protests that culminated in a countrywide strike. Several youth leaders were arrested and imprisoned for their activism-related activities.
During the meeting a committee was established to inter alia look at the methods on how best to celebrate the upcoming birthday of the student movement, envisaged for July 02, 2008.
According to Neville Andre, the Secretary General of Nanso, his movement is planning to hold commemorative activities for the month.
Nanso in the last decade has been inactive and has had a myriad of problems, ranging from debts to inefficient administration, which had paralysed the movement for more than a decade.
Its greatest crisis to date was the movement’s building in Khomasdal, which was auctioned off in mid-2006, to enable the movement to pay bills amounting to N$250 000.