WINDHOEK - On the outskirts of Windhoek, towards Okahandja, at Brakwater lies a small area where three Namibians, whose parents died in the liberation struggle, are making a living by making sandals from old tyres.
Assorted sandal designs were visible from a distance and once closer, one could see the trio in action, going through the vigorous yet daunting process of measuring certain sizes using old outsoles before assembling the sandal parts.
All of this is happening in an open area in the wild, where they have established a veranda made from recycled animal feed sacks and attached to light and not yet fully-grown camelthorn trees for stability.
All from a poor background and raised differently, it was not easy not to relate to some of the ordeals they have gone through in life, which have led them to the city in the hope for greener pastures. Nation Jeremy Ignatius who is 34-years old has two children aged seven and four, who are all dependent on him.
Ndamononghenda Julius who is 31-years old has a daughter while 38-year old George Nghikumwa has to find ways to raise money for university fees for his niece, who has no one else but him. This means he has to work extra hard to provide for her as both her parents have passed on. “When I first made the shoes people loved them and they wanted me to make for them so the idea of doing this for money was birthed,” said Nghikumwa.
The trio started the initiative of using disused car tyres to make finished usable products beginning of last year. They are able to make two pairs of sandals a day and if the week goes smoothly, they make 10 pairs.
Juluis said that they improved with every shoe they made, advising people with ideas to do everything in their power to execute those.
The manufacturing is a slow process as they do not have the necessary equipment to make sandals in large quantities. All they have is superglue, a pair of modified scissors, pliers, a homemade hacksaw, screwdriver and a small machete to cut the tyres. They heavily rely on manual labour. It is not easy cutting through a tyre with your own bare hands but this is work that has to be done otherwise their families will go hungry. These Namibians are trying their best to curb hunger and poverty but it is a journey that is hard and stressful.
Broadly, children born or raised in exile have been labelled as tremendously sluggish, exasperating, self-centered, illiterate, unskilled, egotistical, out of order, stubborn and irrepressible people that are only good at making babies, drinking alcohol and causing damage to government properties while they are expected to find means and ways of studying and working hard to make a living like normal Namibians are doing.
The trio’s mission is to defy this norm as providers and a lot of people depend on them for survival.
Over the past few years, the subject of ‘children of the liberation struggle’ kept on making headlines for all the wrong reasons in the public discourse. Children of the liberation struggle have been demonstrating at various government institutions demanding jobs and so forth.
According to Trading Economics, the youth unemployment rate in Namibia increased to 46.10 percent in 2018 from 43.40 percent in 2016. It averaged 41.70 percent from 2012 to 2018, reaching an all-time high of 46.10 percent in 2018 and a record low of 37.80 percent in 2012. This rate is worrisome and skyrocketing unless something drastic is done.
The anecdote for these three Namibians is not only an eye-opener to those faced with hardship but it should also serve as a constant reminder for others who are fortunate to be grateful for what they have, to appreciate the people they have in their lives as some people are abandoned by their families the moment their biological parents perish. This should serve as a reminder that complaining about unnecessary things is a waste of time and you can do a whole lot more with your life than that. “It’s not that we don’t want to work. Sometimes, you can have an idea but in order to execute it you need the resources,” Nghikumwa said.
2019-06-21 11:43:36 2 months ago