Wantaway Loudima found in Congo jungle

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It was a weekend of high drama in Congo-Brazzaville when 20 frustrated Namibian students at the Loudima Institute for Technical and Vocational Training opted to leave the institute on Saturday morning. They then walked 100 kilometres from the institute in the Kitaka area to the district capital Loudima. The intention was to head to the country’s capital Brazzaville.

In WhatsApp messages and telephonic conversations, the Namibian students, who are now accommodated in a hotel in Brazzaville, told New Era that they have quit the institution but their request to be transported back to Namibia is being ignored.

The students, some of whom only gave their first names for fear of being victimized, said the institute’s director and the Namibian deputy director had refused to give a clear indication when they (the students) would leave Congo-Brazzaville for Namibia.

The students allege that no learning takes place at Loudima, that the library is empty, that the school has no teaching materials and that the little learning taking place is in French, a language they have not yet mastered. “I came here in November and I was never in class. There are no textbooks and no teachers. What will I do in such a class? Waste time?” said one student.

“They keep on telling us the same thing – to wait. We decided enough is enough and walked out,” one of the Namibian students said from Brazzaville yesterday afternoon.

“We were running and crying. We didn’t know where we were going. There is no road in the forest but by the grace of God we found a road from Loudima. The director and deputy director came after us and found us but we ran into the forest before they tracked us down,” said a student while urging the government to bring them back home as they are wasting their time in the Congo.

There was no official response to enquiries relayed to Congo’s High Commission in Windhoek, which has always declined to comment on Loudima. All enquiries were referred to the Namibian Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, which is the custodian of the institute.

When New Era called the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Alfred van Kent, a person who referred to himself as a participant at a workshop where Van Kent was replied that the ministry is to issue a statement within 48 hours, as there is a variety of information to be obtained. “The situation is changing on the ground,” added the person.

The students said that their ordeal worsened last week Friday when they camped at the institute director’s house waiting for a final answer on their departure to Namibia. When the answer did not materialize on Saturday morning, they trekked from Kitaka to Loudima.

The director followed them to Loudima where they were taken to the district governor of Loudima and, they allege, they were asked to wait for two weeks for an audience with President Denis Sassou Nguesso. They refused the offer.

The director then took them back to the institute to pack their belongings and along with 41 other students they were taken to the country’s capital Brazzaville on Sunday. In Brazzaville, the students claim, they met with the Namibian Ambassador to Congo, Major-General (Rtd) Vilio Hifindaka, who asked them to remain put while he heard from the Namibian government but so far no response had been forthcoming.

“The ambassador said the maximum days we can wait here is six days, while the minimum is two and we have been here for two days,” said the students.

A total of 21 students who went to Loudima in March and November last year flew back last week after demanding government bring them back home. Over a 100 Namibian students undertook technical and vocational studies at Loudima at the expense of the Namibian government. Of the 100 students, only 10 are allegedly willing to proceed with their studies.

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