RUNDU – San women claim that men use them and abandon them once they fall pregnant, because the San are considered to be of ‘low status’ in the Namibian society. This was one of the sentiments expressed by a group of San women whom New Era spoke to yesterday in Rundu.
New Era approached the San women, who everyday come together under the shade of trees overlooking the spot where Shoprite supermarket in Rundu dumps expired food and other leftover consumables. The women confided that they find it hard to find meaningful employment and are forced to look for men who can provide for them. “I dropped out of school in 2010 when my parents died, because there was no one to pay for my schooling. I fell pregnant, but it seems the men are just using us, they lie to you that they love you, but when you fall pregnant they disappear,” said Lydia Alfred aged 21. “I cannot be dating one of my own people, because most of them are also suffering like me. How can such a person support me?” she asked.
The San community, which is the most marginalized ethnic group in Namibia, tend to be more vulnerable and government-dependent compared to other ethnic communities in the country. “Every day we wake up and come and sit here waiting for the people from Shoprite to come and give us the rotten food so that we can have something to eat. Sometimes we sit here until 5 o’clock just waiting for the food. Luckily none of us or our kids has fallen sick as a result of the discarded food,” Alfred said. She also blames nurses at the hospitals and clinics in Rundu for her pregnancy. “Whenever I went to the hospital to get family planning, the nurses told me that I am too young.”
Another San woman, Sekere Kambongi, aged 20, said the reason they collect the discarded food from Shoprite is because they do not receive any relish with the maize distributed through the government’s drought relief scheme. “How can government just give us maize meal, how do they want us to eat it? Other people are given maize meal with either tinned fish or beef, but we the San, we just get maize meal. In other places government takes care of the San people, but here we are neglected,” said Kambongi.
Deputy Mayor of Rundu, Bonny Kahare, urged the group to visit the office of the regional governor for assistance. He said there is a farm near Rundu where San people are being resettled, but many San people are reluctant to go there. One of the women asked Kahare why they are not allowed to cultivate where they are presently residing, to which he replied: “You must know that you are staying within the town’s boundaries, therefore you are not allowed to cultivate. At the farm where the other San people have been resettled you are allowed to cultivate.”
By Mathias Haufiku