San community leader at Ekoka village in Okongo constituency Festus Nakale is concerned about the early marriage of young children hastily being wed off by their parents. Nakale said there is a high rate of teenager pregnancies and school dropouts among the San because elders from this impoverished community force their children into marriage and in exchange they receive alcohol and second-hand clothing.
“Our people have no understanding of the benefits of education. Government has done a lot to assist us but I think we believe more in culture and alcohol,” said Nakale.
“The problem is the parents. They feel happier when they go to cuca shops with their children so that when they reach puberty they will encourage them to accept proposals from men in exchange for alcohol.”
Nakale said some parents even strangely request the school hostel to provide tombo as an incentive to keep some of the San learners in the hostel.
He said one of the reasons the children are dropping out of school is the language barrier.
“Our children do not understand Oshikwanyama. They speak the Khoekhoe language. Hence that problem itself is forcing them to drop out because everything becomes difficult for them,” he stated.
He suggested government should relocate these learners to Tsumkwe for their studies because schools there teach Khoekhoe which they can understand.
One of the pre-primary teachers at the school Tabita Kamhulu has apportioned blame on San parents for being the main contributing factor to the high school dropout rate among the San children of school-going age.
She further said that child marriage is caused mainly by the fact the San themselves believe girls and women are somehow inferior to boys and men.
“Cultural practices in that community perpetuate gender inequality and the notion that girls are the property of men. Humiliation and violence against young girls are sometimes used to enforce submission and obedience in preparation for child marriage,” she explained.
Kamhulu noted that many of the San children are simply too young to make an informed decision about their marriage partner but the situation forces them.
New Era came across a young San couple that said they got married when they were round 11 years of age.
Epifa Philipus and Timo Johannes claim they are happily married and their marital union has produced three children, aged seven, five and three.
2020-06-23 12:30:40 | 19 days ago