San craft centre turns into white elephant

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Nuusita Ashipala

Ekoka-The San community at Ekoka have abandoned a craft centre aimed at economically empowering them and giving them skills, alleging mismanagement is the cause of their action.

The centre has stood idle for at least four years despite having generated income for residents in the past.

The centre has now become a playground for children and a grazing area for livestock.
The head of the San community at Ekoka, Festus Nakale, said it will require more than revival to keep it operational.

“We will need a caretaker to manage the centre on our behalf. Otherwise it will not function for long,” said Nakale as he shared his concern about the erratic behaviour of the youth in the area who while away their time drinking cheap beer.

During its heyday the centre provided crafters with meals and caretakers marketed their work.

“We even used to have our work marketed at Ongwediva Trade Fair. But when the previous caretakers left we no longer had a market for our handicraft work hence the abandonment. But if there is a chance for revival we will be happy to impart skills to the youth,” said Josua Junias, another senior member of the San community.
Junias was previously employed by the Ministry of Defence.

Nakale said the revival of the centre is vital in creating employment for the youth to make them productive.

Currently only one youth in the area is employed with the rest spending their days at cuca-shops, consuming tombo.

“The idea of the craft centre was a good one, but our people here need more than just physical help, they need psychological help too,” said Nakale.

The headman at Ekoka, Fillemon Mwapangasha, said the government can only uplift the San community if they establish projects which are constantly monitored.

“These guys are naturally talented. They can do any work they lay their hands on. The only problem is that they will not do work on their own,” said Mwapangasha.

The Ohangwana Regional Council could not say when the centre would be fully operational again.

Another project that is not fully operational is the two mahangu fields allocated to the San community.

Currently only a portion of the two fields have been tilled.
Nakale said one of the fields is leased out to farmers around the area, while another area is only half cultivated as the other portion is reserved for livestock feeding.

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