The community of the tiny hamlet of Schlip was this week overjoyed when they received something that many Namibians have long taken for granted: they got to listen to radio for the first time in their village. And those with sufficient means can now buy television sets.
Not that they were unable to do so before, but simply because they now have television network coverage in Schlip, as well, which they did not have before.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology Tjekero Tweya was in Schlip on Thursday to commission the extension of TV and radio services to the village.
“Most of us thought we will be departing this world without ever listening to radio or watching television in our own language, but finally out of the blue we got what we always wanted,” an elderly Kotie Isaaks said.
Excited young people pointed out that they can now use Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter in the village. “It’s like our dignity is restored,” said Julien Isaaks, a young village health assistant.
Schlip is a rustic village of just over 300 square kilometres in size and is home to a population of about 3 000 people. It is in Rehoboth Rural Constituency in Hardap Region. Oddly, the village is considered an island, because it is based on communal land sandwiched between privately owned land, owned by land barons, some of whom are absentee landlords.
To arrive at Schlip one has to turn off the main B1 road just west of Rehoboth and drive on the gravel road for 90 kilometres.
The village has two primary schools and a junior secondary school.
Rehoboth Rural Constituency, under which Schlip falls, has been ranked among the poorest constituencies in the country.
Addressing the community, Tweya slammed some cresidents who claim that government has not done much for the people of the South since independence.
Speaking in Afrikaans, Tweya said such notions are perpetuated by those who want it to seem that government has failed:
“To those prophets of doom, who never appreciate when they themselves have eaten something when somebody, in this case the government, at least considers to feed those that are hungry – even if it is for a day to be able to see the next day – then they complain and say: ‘Don’t give them food, because you will make them dependent’.”
Hardap Governor Esme Isaack urged residents not to use the services to promote hatred or sow division. “Let us put the services to good use,” she said, urging residents to pay their TV licenses so as to qualify to purchase an NBC decoder.
She also called on residents to guard the infrastructure against vandalism.
“Let us Harambee and guard the peace we are enjoying today for the sake of progress and prosperity,” she said.
The occasion was attended by chief executive officers of various stakeholders, including New Era Publication Corporation (NEPC)’s Dr Audrin Mathe, Namibia Press Agency’s Isack Hamata, Powercom’s Alisa Amupolo, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN)’s Festus Mbandeka, as well as NBC director general Stanley Similo.
Also in attendance were MTC board chairperson Elvis Nashilongo, Telecom acting managing director Theo Klein and Huawei’s managing director, Wallace Yin.
NEPC donated free copies of New Era to the Schlip Constituency Office for three months, while NBC donated two televisions and two radio sets. Huawei donated ten mobile handsets.
– New Era Weekend