His dream was to ensure safety for the visually impaired

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The late Manasse Tjangalala poses for a picture reading the first edition of the New Era Braille newspaper at the launch of the newspaper at the New Era Publication Corporation head offices in Windhoek.

WINDHOEK – The visually impaired community in Namibia, especially members of the Namibia Federation of the Visually Impaired (NFVI) and those who came into contact with it, suffered a great blow with the passing on of a man who desired to see conditions of the visually impaired in the country improve.

Manasse Tjangalala, who was 49 years old at the time of his passing, died of a stroke last Tuesday, his family confirmed over the weekend. “He was loving, trustworthy, honest, hardworking, friendly to everyone regardless of their age and he gave even his last. He had a dream to make sure that people with visual impairments are safe,” Tjangalala’s sister Helena Orr said.

The late Tjangalala’s shack in Otjomuise was a welcome place for people with visual impairments and he would hold their hands and encourage them to try and lead normal lives regardless of their inability to see, Orr shared.  The teary Orr, who had nothing but good words for her deceased brother who was born with a rare cancer that led to his blindness, described the loss of her brother as tragic to the family as he was their pillar of strength despite his disability.

He was instrumental in the establishment of the New Era Braille newspaper, the first in the country, that was launched on November 22. The night before Tjangalala and his colleagues at NFVI pulled an all-nighter ensuring that the first edition of the Braille newspaper was printed without any hiccups for launch the next day. He died literally days after the launch of the first Braille newspaper in the country.

“He wished the visually impaired a good life. He was a quiet man who listened attentively, yet quietly, to people’s problems before offering his opinion and advice. He was a man who did not want to dwell much on problems and when we were confronted with overwhelming circumstances he would tell us to let go if we cannot solve the problem,” she added.

Tjangalala, who was described as a courageous man with a very positive outlook on life also had a great love for his two sons, six-year-old Nasel and one-year-old August. “He got his two sons very late in life. He wanted the best for them, had great dreams for them. Although Nasel is in the north, Manasse wanted the best for him. When he lived here with him he made sure that he took him to school (crèche) despite being visually impaired,” Orr added.

Tjangalala was born on March 14 1964 in Grootfontein and grew up in Otavi. In 1974 he attended school for the first time at Eluwa special school in the north where he stayed for four years before moving to Engela where he stayed for two years. He moved back to Otavi where he lived until 1996, when he moved to Windhoek to receive rehabilitation at the Service Centre of the Visually Impaired, now known as the NFVI.

Tjangalala was seen to have great potential and skill and in 1997 he was employed at the NFVI as a Braille instructor, a post he held until his death.

As a Braille instructor, Tjangalala taught students of different categories, including beginner teachers from other special schools as well as students who acquired visual impairments at a later stage in life. “He was committed, dedicated and always ready to help. He accepted everybody regardless of their condition. We used to call him Professor in Braille because he was an expert,” said Marian Ampweya, Acting Project Manager at the NFVI.

Tjangalala was in possession of Luiz Braille certificates in Afrikaans and English. He also attended different workshops in capacity building,  and obtained a certificate as a literacy promoter. Tjangalala, who was also the chairperson of the Braille Committee in Namibia, had recently received a certificate in Low Vision Training.

Tjangalala leaves behind five sisters and one brother, two sons and his partner, Elizabeth Karufere. Tjangalala, who was the second sibling, will be laid to rest this coming Saturday in Otavi while a memorial service will be held at his home today.

By Alvine Kapitako

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