WINDHOEK - Two Namibian models have nothing but praise for Namibian Ambassador to Ghana, Charles Josob, who rescued them from Benin where they say they endured untold sufferings.
Pakkala Ashipala and Saara Shipuata, who are both students at the University of Namibia (Unam), were in Cotonou, Benin to participate in this year’s African Miss University of the World Pageant.
Shipuata was crowned as first princess of the pageant.
Ashipala, who spoke to New Era upon her arrival from the pageant, says during their time in Cotonou they were told that they no longer had human rights and that they needed to adapt to the rules and regulations of the house they were accommodated in ahead of the contest.
When they protested, organisers allegedly threatened to deport them back to Namibia.
“It was that same day that we were informed the pageant was no longer on August 17 as promised, but it was postponed to August 25 with no reason given,” says Ashipala.
In the accommodation facility the blankets were not enough for all the girls participating in the pageant and they had to use their Namibian flags as extra ‘blankets’ for the whole of their stay in the West African country.
They had borrowed the flags from the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation prior to their departure, Ashipala said.
“When I asked for a blanket after four days, they responded that they are done because apparently I came late, therefore I must make a plan because ‘African women adapt’. We were only given one toilet roll for the whole week despite us being four in the room,” says a frustrated Ashipala.
She adds that they also had to use plates to drink tea.
“We starved as we had to go for three to four days without food as we did not budget for food. They had promised to take care of our food, but in the end they started demanding that we give them money for us to buy food, which meant that if we did not give them money we would not get food, and we also had to pay for fuel,” says Ashipala.
According to Shipuata, they were also spiritually abused because they were taken to Oudah, a spiritual village in a nearby town where they visited places like the temple of pythons.
“They said we were going to a snake park, but when we got there, they said apparently it was a temple of their gods and that we needed to be protected against all types of accidents.”
“They were putting the snakes around our necks apparently for protection but some of us refused, which made them angry,” says Shipuata, adding that they were also taken to a cemetery to talk to the dead.
“They also wanted to keep me hostage but I was saved by Ashipala, who kept contacting our authorities to the extent that they ended up throwing her out of the house,” says Shipuata.
“Our Namibian High Commissioner to Ghana Charles Josob travelled from Accra to Cotonou to extract us, and together with him we travelled to Ghana to the embassy, from where we flew to Namibia on August 31,” says Ashipala.
The pageant was supposedly established with the aim to empower women and promote unity, diversity and tourism in Africa.