WINDHOEK - Businesswoman Twapewa Kadhikwa is an inspiration to many Namibian young people.
Man or woman, those in the know of Twapewa’s business success have often spoken about how inspired they were by Twapewa’s business acumen – demonstrated by the simplicity of her journey from humble beginnings to becoming one of the formidable entrepreneurs of her generation.
But while her business expedition is so known, even to the birds of the sky, little was known about how she cheated death at the hands of an ex-boyfriend during her university days.
Now a family woman, Twapewa told a gathering here last week about her jilted ex-boyfriend attempted to take her life – but fate had things differently.
In the end, it was the ex-boyfriend, a law student at the University of Namibia at the time, who went on to take his own life not too far from the institution’s main campus in Windhoek.
Although the shocking incident happened 18 years ago, Twapewa narrated it poignantly as though it had occurred a mere week ago.
Twapewa shared her horrific experience of gender-based violence (GBV) publicly during a workshop last week.
The workshop was organised by the Office of the First Lady about media reporting on GBV.
First Lady Monica Geingos teamed up with ONE Campaign, an international non-profit organisation, founded by Irish rock star and philanthropist Bono.
Twapewa shared about suffering from depression as the result of the incident and what carried her through this paid after the jaw-dropping ordeal.
She also spoke about receiving an anonymous call for years on every June 24, being the day she escaped death and when his ex took his own life.
Narrating the disturbing episode, Twapewa was 20-years-old at the time.
She and her then boyfriend mutually agreed to end the relationship – a few months into their romantic sojourn.
Reason for breaking up? Because they were not connecting, she said. The two started dating in November and decided to call it quits in February the following year. “We were not connecting and we agreed for the relationship to end, I didn’t cry, he didn’t cry. Nobody said ‘I will miss you or I really love you’. It was just a casual decision,” she said.
Four months later, in June the same year, Twapewa said shortly after returning to Unam after an out weekend, her hostel neighbour told her, her ex-boyfriend was looking for her at her room and he left a message saying he will come on Thursday to kill her (Twapewa).
Twapewa then called her mother revealed she had a boyfriend and related the message he left. She mentioned her ex-boyfriend’s name and surname and her mother happened to know his family and she contacted them.
On Wednesday of that week, soon after Twapewa and two other women entered her hostel room, the ex-boyfriend showed up.
“I heard a knock on the door, then I asked who it is, it was silent, I walked to the door and asked again who it was… there was just silence. The person put a note under the door. I pulled it and at that point he knew there was someone in the room.”
“See you in hell,” reads the first paragraph of the message.
“Your mother called my mother,” it continued.
Twapewa said: “And as I was reading, I didn’t even finish (reading), I just heard a shot being fired and it flew past my thigh.”
The alarmed Twapewa then switched off the lights in her room and together with her two lady friends squeezed themselves under the bed.
Three minutes later, she heard the ex-boyfriend pulling the room’s curtain and feared he wanted to set the room on fire.
Running out of ideas, one of her friends, Linda, suggested they go into the tiny cupboard in her room for improved safety. They crept from under the bed into the cupboard. Twapewa later heard the ex-boyfriend arguing with fellow students outside about his action. He fired three more shots into Twapewa’s bed through the window.
A week later, Twapewa received news that the ex-boyfriend committed suicide. Next to his body were three diaries. She said from the first to the last page the ex-boyfriend just wrote about her.
“I don’t know why [he] did that but those three diaries brought fire. I apparently betrayed him, I was found in the room with a guy and that my father is a businessman because we practiced juju (witchcraft),” she said of the aftermath.
“I am sharing this because no one came to ask me what happened.”
She eventually visited psychologists and engaged with every version of depression tablet.
“The last point is when I was prescribed Lithium, the most advance depression tablet.”
“What carries me, is this instrument (holding a bible). We cope differently. This (bible) is what has helped me to be who I am. After the Lithium prescription I had to make up my mind.”
Twapewa also shared that because she was angry and unhappy from what had happened, she wanted to set her ex-boyfriend’s grave alight but she never found the grave.
“I asked my sister to show me the grave, she wasn’t comfortable. For 15 years, I was carrying a match in my bag, I was prepared to burn that grave… I will go with paraffin, take a match and burn it and walk away but because I was scared of going alone to the cemetery, I never found the grave. It is okay now.”
Twapewa said despite the magnitude of the incident - it was a big hit on radio, TV and newspapers – none of the media came at her parents’ house for a story. She then went public with the ‘Unam cafeteria’ version.
She encouraged the media to do stories in a manner that positively influence people’s thinking.
“It is good that you are reporters, dress yourselves with a new jacket, being a leader in society,” she told journalists in attendance.
“You have to influence. Leadership is about moving people from point A to B - B being a better place.