The recent visit of McHenry Venaani to Emanya SS in Onyaanya community, of Oshikoto Region, championed the writing of this opinion piece. I would like to thank the leadership of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, and Oshikoto Education Directorate for their impartiality and understanding of the way they do business and for granting McHenry Venaani an opportunity to engage with the school. After careful consideration of the public outcry, I felt I should uncover the truth so that the issue is viewed and interpreted in the right context, because there is more than what meets the eye. I am a former teacher at Emanya SS (2006-2012), where I had also served as Secretary to the School Board and a member of the School Management Committee, among other responsibilities. I am a non-card carrying member, sympathiser or supporter of any political party in Namibia. Of late, the school has been making headlines, all for the wrong reasons. Among others, its historic failure of zero percent pass rate in Grade 12 for the year 2017. It is worth mentioning that it was for the first time the school was offering Grade 12 level examination. Despite this dismal and shameful failure I have ever known in a lifetime, no community leaders attempted to engage with the school in this regard. Most recently, the school rejected a visit by McHenry Venaani, in his capacity as a national leader, who wanted to familiarise himself with the challenges facing the school, and what might have orchestrated the dismal failure. In view of these trends, I would like to clarify, situate, contextualise and enunciate the crux of the resistance on issues of Emanya SS and its motherly Onyaanya community from a phenomenological perspective. McHenry Venaani is a national leader and as part of his community outreach responsibilities he has an obligation to reach out to every institution in Namibia, subject to procedures. In this case, he followed the procedures and obtained all approvals prior to his visit at Emanya SS. However, his visit navigated through a thick smoke of resistance. Generally, Onyaanya people are resistant in nature. Unfortunately, some of them happen to be teachers at Emanya SS, and therefore can easily relate any news at school to the broader Onyaanya community, which then midwifes the infestations of bad cultural, social, religious and political ideologies, which altogether has, and continues to, sabotage development at the school in particular and community at large. As soon as the visit of McHenry Venaani was made known to the school, the news spread in a blink of an eye like wildfire among the Onyaanya community, with a series of overnight meetings hosted wherever, whenever, in pursuit to block the visit, come what may! The school improvements and the development of the community was never, and has never been, the agenda of their meetings, but the political orientations, which unfortunately have kept their community at the periphery of development, but they are too blind to see it – disgraceful indeed! The main argument was not the procedures that they claim were not followed, but the fact that the visiting national leader bears a different political house. Mind you, the visit was not about political agenda, but answering the fundamental question: how can we mitigate the challenges facing the school to enable our learners score better marks than the zero pass rate? Despite being informed about this central question, the community was still determined to go out of its way and show the world how backward-thinking it was by demonstrating against efforts to improve school performance. The resistance came from the community members who felt that they were deep-rooted in Swapo and therefore no-one could step foot in their community without a Swapo badge. Their lack of education has not only midwifed their intellectual poverty, but rendered them blind in distinguishing between the community and Swapo office. McHenry Venaani’s visit to Emanya SS was constitutional and procedural. Attempts that were intended to block his visit were old-fashioned, shameful, ill-informed and out of context, and should be viewed and characterised as such. Such attempts do not conform to the ideals of a democratic society that Namibia claims to be. Gratefully, he managed to visit the school and assisted where he can. Regrettably, those who tried to block him had harvested their own fair share of embarrassment to deal with. I hope they have learned a thing or two. Noticeably, the Onyaanya community is an inherently resistant community I have ever known in recent time, and it is not easy to bring about developments, especially when you are an alien. This is, unfortunately, not to the benefit of the school because the young generation of teachers who come there with their fresh initiatives and innovations that got shot off by the powers of the community, always leave the school to use their initiatives elsewhere. I am looking towards a just society where all people co-exist and work together to ensure that learners are assisted to excel in all aspects of life, and make them become our own paragons of virtue and beacons of hope. * Dr Elock Shikalepo is a Namibian academic and a former teacher at Emanya SS.
New Era Reporter
2018-07-27 09:25:15 10 months ago