Chetto-Namibian Kwaito artist Lazarus Shiimi, better known by his stage name ‘Gazza’, has condemned child marriage, saying it is an unlawful activity that defers the dreams of Namibian children.
Shiimi made the remarks while addressing San learners and parents during the Back to School and Stay in School campaign on June 20 at Kandunda Kaseta Combined School in the Western part of Zambezi Region.
Information gathered from the school indicated that the majority of school dropouts at the school were young girls, who left school due to early child marriages. Shiimi cautioned community members involved in such marriages to refrain from it. “When you marry children, you shut off their dreams and they become nothing but your slaves,” he stressed.
In addition, Shiimi who is the ambassador of the Back to School and Stay in School campaign reminded learners that education is the main key to whatever they want to achieve in life, it should thus come first.
“If you want to get out of the cycle of poverty you have to go to school, because poverty can only be conquered through education,” he stressed. He further urged the community of Chetto to avoid breaking laws due to traditions and rather balance culture with education.
“I’m not saying you should give up your culture, but instead you should learn to balance culture with education, because a culture without education results in poverty,” he said. He also advised parents to send their children to school and to always chase them to school whenever they hang around at shebeens with the parents.
The Back to School and Stay in School campaign is run by the Office of the President through the Division of Marginalised Communities, which include San, Ovatue and Ovatjimba. It aims to improve their livelihood and motivate marginalised children who dropped out of school to go back and those who are still in school to stay until they complete their formal education.
According to deputy director of marginalised communities Gerson Kamatuka, the campaign has been in existence for six years and is used as a platform to encourage marginalised learners and their parents to take education seriously, regardless of the challenges they encounter.
In a speech read on his behalf, Deputy Minister for Marginalised Communities Royal /Ui/o/o, applauded the teachers of Kandunda Kaseta Combined School for committing their lives to educating the Namibian child, despite the many challenges they endure, such as: lack of clean water, or proper accommodation and poor network coverage.
At the same event, the Office of the President donated school bags to the Grade 8 and 9 learners of the school. “I am very grateful for the donations we received and the motivational messages. A lot of young people in our community get married at a very young age, which ruins their education. I am therefore urging fellow marginalised children to concentrate on their education first, and only get married when they are done with their studies,” said Lydia Kachibonwa, one of the beneficiaries.
The Office of the President also caters for tuition fees, transport and provides monthly allowances to marginalised students at institutions of higher learning.
* Hilma Nakanduungile is an information officer in the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology based in Zambezi Region.