OUTAPI – On Facebook she has, perhaps by default, become something of a cyberstar. But in real life, destitution is tearing her body and soul to shreds.
Internet sensation Viivii, real name Maria Elias, has become the source of humour and entertainment for Namibian Facebook subscribers, especially those who understand Oshiwambo.
Her many video clips, often filmed without her consent at bars in northern Namibia, have gone viral in recent months. From Facebook to WhatsApp, Viivii’s often vulgar videos have covered the entire spectrum of social media platforms in the country.
Desperate and hungry, Viivii is often cajoled into saying ‘funny’ things in exchange for beer. She is then filmed unaware during her often controversial dialogues and such content is then posted on Facebook.
A publicly known HIV/AIDS sufferer, Viivii is often lured into stating who she has slept with and has possibly infected with the deadly disease.
She is often filmed while bragging that she is never in short supply of sexual admirers, even at age 59. In one of the latest videos, posted on a Facebook page created in her ‘honour’, the mother of two is seen singing ‘Ondadengwa’, a song by local music group PDK. In almost all of the videos, she is often seen shouting ‘ino thaneka ndje ngaye’ (please don’t film me), in an apparent bid to fend off the onslaught of her selfish abusers.
New Era visited Viivii in Outapi recently, and unearthed shocking living conditions – a sharp contrast to the Facebook sensation whose videos many cannot afford to miss.
Clearly destitute, Viivii is pleading for donations on all fronts. She asked this reporter to let her many Facebook admirers that she needs shelter, food and clothing.
Originally from Oluteyi in Okahao Constituency, Viivii says she was deserted by her family a few years ago to all but become a hobo wondering the streets of Outapi and Okahao. The homeless vagabond now lives in a makeshift tent with her boyfriend in Outapi, living a hand-to-mouth life with her better half.The lovebirds sleep on the floor with no mattress or blankets to shield them from recent rains, or the wrath of the cold front expected this winter.
“I don’t have a job. I depend on Good Samaritans to feed and clothe me. For now, I just pray that it doesn’t rain because my tent will be destroyed,” said Viivii.
Hunger in particular is threatening to send her to her maker because it is often recommended that HIV-infected persons must at all times have food to eat in order to complement their ARV treatments. Even for her follow-up medical treatments, she relies on warm-hearted locals to remind her of the pending schedules. Viivii has apportioned much of her ordeal to family members who she said grossly mistreated her until she could no longer stomach the abuse, which apparently included insults and physical attacks.
“Years back, my sister [name withheld] has been mistreating me, insulting, beating me and chasing me out of the house,” the claimed. She later found a boyfriend who works for a local building material company in Okahao. “My boyfriend was camping at his work premises and he decided to move in with me in his tent. Later he was transferred to Outapi and told me to go with him,” she said. The couple often has no food at home, she revealed. Viivii is often seen drinking alcohol and smoking in the Facebook video – a dangerous habit for someone on treatment.
“I was advised to stop drinking and smoking. I have now stopped for a week and I promise I will not drink anymore. I choose to drink energy drinks only,” said Elias.
She said she is not always happy with being filmed and displayed on Facebook as a source of laughter for thousands of subscribers. “Some individuals are making fun of me. Me being fun and making jokes to them does not give them the right to put me on Facebook against my will,” she pointed out. She said she recently gave permission to people to put her on Facebook in order to find Samaritans who can help her secure decent shelter. Born in Okakundu village in Uukwaluudhi and moved to Oluteyi later with her mother, she attended Oluteyi primary school until Standard 5 (Grade 7 these days).
At the age of 15, she moved to Windhoek in 1977 and lived at Single Quarters in Katutura.
“I gave birth to my first born, a boy who passed away in 1982. In 1984, I gave birth my second son. The two children have the same father,” she said. Josefina Iipinge, a local who first discovered Viivii’s living condition, said she found Viivii on the verge of death. “I found her with a swollen legs, struggling to get money to go to hospital and I helped her by taking her to hospital,” she said.
Viivii said Iipinge has treated her like a daughter.