Nollar Tjaimi is a determined woman. Having eventually managed to set up her own communal farm last year, she keeps yearning for more.
And it’s not material possessions that she’s after, it is the recognition that women can and will achieve anything they set their eyes on.
If her farming journey is anything to go by, Tjaimi has already proven this conviction.
After warding off personal setbacks, she took to farming like a duck to water, or more aptly like a cow to salt!
Farming and getting dirty in the kraal’s mud after a good rainy night was therefore nothing new to Tjaimi.
It is a life she has been living while growing up with her mother in the village.
“My mother raised us to be strong individuals mentally.
She herself would do most tasks around the homestead - even tasks such as driving cattle to faraway cattle posts, which was traditionally regarded as men’s work,” she explained.
Tjaimi farms with different livestock breeds; Bonsmara cattle and Damara sheep among her top favourites.
Her love for the Bonsmara hinges on the breed’s high fertility and ease of calving.
“I know there are some farmers out there who are not fond of the Bonsmara, but this breed has served me well over the years.
I love the fact that they calve so easily, and I hardly struggle with calves getting stuck at birth,” she added.
According to Tjaimi, the Damara sheep has proven that it is well-adapted to her farming surroundings with its great maternal instincts and the lambs’ ability to grow fast. This is a vital trait in the dense bushy area of Ekuenye in the Otjozondjupa region, where Tjaimi practices her farming.
The area is full of predatory animals, most notably the black-backed jackal, which has been a nightmare for small stock farmers in communal settings for years.
“A Damara ewe will protect her offspring to the end - even with her own life. Also, the fact that these lambs are fast to get off the ground means they could run with the mother and evade the prowling jackals and other predators,” she noted.
Reflecting on how far she has come with her farming activities, Tjaimi admits it was not a smooth journey.
When she started setting up her communal farm - a step many traditionally believe should be a man’s job - she unsurprisingly got a cold reception.
Her structures would be stolen as she was setting them up, and so would some of her livestock, ostensibly to discourage her from completing her homestead and settling in.
“It was hard.
People here still believe it is out of the ordinary for a woman to set up her own homestead and own it. They believe a woman should always be under a man. So, some would come and steal livestock from my kraal to discourage me, thinking maybe I was weak as a woman to do anything about that.
“As I sit here, I have numerous court cases of people whom we had to track down, and we found them with my animals which they had stolen and often slaughtered,” she stated. Tjaimi was raised to believe that “we are all human beings first, before we are classified as men or women.” She, therefore, believes that setbacks as a result of societal beliefs and stereotypes should not stop women from rising to their best level.
The farming blood in her has also led her to start a backyard garden at her house in Osona Village, just outside Okahandja. Here, she grows tomatoes and other vegetables for her own consumption.
At the village, she also keeps some chickens, and plans to venture into more poultry products soon.
“I am a farmer. The farming blood runs in me, and you can’t separate that from me. Young women, youth, whoever, rise up and put your dreams into motion – no one will do it for you, but yourself. And yes, it can be done,” she emphasised.