KATIMA MULILO - All alone with a chitenge wrapped around her body while doing laundry on the banks of the Zambezi River, 20-year-old Queen Lilungwe shares her story as an African girl born and bred along that river.
With a formal education that only ended in grade 9 in 2020 at Wennie du Plessis in Gobabis, she decided to return home to the Zambezi region to take care of her baby.
Lilungwe is a resident of Lwayaha location, not so far from the Zambezi River, where she lives with her parents.
Not only does she embrace the river in totality, she says not even an ambush by deadly crocodiles or hippos can scare or take away her love and excitement of being at the riverside.
Besides household chores, the unemployed youth narrates how she uses the river to meditate, think and concentrate so as to turn the day into something good.
It is along the river where she finds both inspiration
and zeal to confront challenges and opportunities that each day presents.
“I don’t go to school; I am washing my child’s clothes. I always come to bathe here at the river, every day.
I am not scared...it’s not like the crocodile
is just there. It’s relaxing here. We use the
river to bathe and wash clothes, although we have a tap at home. Washing at the river
also saves the water bill at home. I just come
and wait for my clothes to dry here, then I
go back home.
I really love coming here on my own, every morning. It’s safe for me, and I didn’t encounter any problems while here at the riverside,” Lilungwe said with joy vivid in her eyes.
Instead of sitting idle at home, she prefers to chill at the riverside.
Without any formal job and in the face of limited employment prospects, coupled with a limited educational background,
she decided to venture into selling firewood
to provide for herself, her family and her
“I always order firewood from one man at Liselo, as he sells nice firewood. He charges between N$270 or more for a bakkie full of firewood. I make a profit out of this firewood business. There is no firewood in my area, and people are in need of firewood. I order my firewood every week, so it means I am doing well in my business. I am happy, as I am also helping my parents at home with house chores,” she noted.
It is, however, not all doom and gloom for the 20-year-old as far as her education journey is concerned.
With optimism, she looks forward to her father’s promise that he will foot her tuition bill for a certain course in order to help her advance.
A big dreamer, she sees herself donned in the black gown as a criminal defence
Like many Namibians, she is also concerned about the high level of imbibing among teenagers, instead of doing
productive things. “People here [of] my age lack understanding. They don’t like to be advised, and take it the wrong way,” she lamented.
However, she urged her peers who find themselves doing nothing to try productive things at home, and to turn their days into useful ones.
She warned that sitting idle is “home to
the devil, and one should always try to
indulge himself or herself in some or other work”. The youthful Lilungwe is an ardent
believer that engaging oneself in basics
like selling firewood instead of sitting idle can unchain them from the jaws of abject poverty, and will also provide them with bread on the table.