Chetto — With Christmas being just around the corner, President Hifikepunye Pohamba on Tuesday hosted an early Christmas party for the San people at Chetto, 180km west of Katima Mulilo.
San communities from Chetto, Masambo and Omega attended the event, which was a rare spectacle in the rural area, which has very little evidence of development and sits without television and radio reception.
After spending close to two hours consulting with the headman of the area, Abraham Bock, President Pohamba was excited and felt the visit also gave him an opportunity to familiarise himself with the concerns of residents in the area. He pledged government's commitment towards the social upliftment of the San people.
"I am happy that we have worked with the regional governor and council to organise an early Christmas party for the residents of Chetto and the surrounding areas. The visit has also given me an opportunity to familiarise myself with government projects and programmes in the area. The government is committed, hence the building of a school and clinic to serve the community of Chetto," said Pohamba.
Among the concerns noted by the president are the lack of food and identity documents, as well as adequate school facilities. "I am informed that people lack food and ID documents. I also noted that the school lacks a fence to protect children and those residing on the school premises. I ask the governor to ensure that such problems are addressed," said Pohamba.
The president thanked the sponsors of the event, Namport and the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB). "I want to thank our sponsors for the support. I am so moved by the commitment of Namport and the Namibia Tourism Board. I am told Namport has already started assisting schools in Caprivi. Part of Namport's success depends on the Trans-Caprivi Highway which is connecting Walvis Bay with major business centres in SADC," said the president.
Pohamba further urged the community of Chetto to join government efforts in ensuring food security. "I am told a garden project will be set up here by the ministry of agriculture. Let me urge the residents of Chetto to support the project and ensure that the project succeeds. I call upon all people to work hard and use our land to produce food.
"For the soil to produce food someone needs to work on it. I am the president today because I worked very hard. I want to see in my lifetime a person from this community becoming a minister or president. If a president can come from one tribe, why not from the San?" Pohamba asked.
"Old people reaching the age of 60 should register themselves to receive pension money not only in Chetto but the whole country.
The money is there offered by the government just waiting for them," he said. Chairperson of Namport board of directors, Jerry Muadinohamba, who also graced the occasion revealed that Namport has decided to sponsor 15 learners in grades 9 and 10 from the san community in the Bwabwata area to pursue maritime studies.
"Fifteen learners from the Khwe community in the Bwabwata area will be picked up from grades 9 to 10. They will have an opportunity to go to maritime schools in Cape Town and the Erongo Region depending on their academic performance. We would like to make the sea relevant to the people," Muadinohamba said.
Muadinohamba also said Namport has been made aware of the dismal situation of the Chetto Primary School and pledged to help in upgrading facilities at the school. "We have seen the state of the community hostel. We will work with the office of the governor and the directorate of education in finding ways to help," he said.
Namport, which has already sponsored two schools in the Caprivi Region, namely Simataa Secondary School and Brendan Simbwaye Combined School, also intends to employ about five people from the Bwabwata area.
People in the Bwabwata area, which is a national park, constantly live under the threat of attacks by wild animals, particularly the teachers at the primary school, which lacks a fence. The chief executive officer of the NTB Digu Noabeb pledged to fence off the school.
"The tourism board is pro-poor. We would love to plough back in the community that is taking care of our natural resources. We will assist the school in erecting a fence to protect our vulnerable people from wild animals," Noabeb promised. School-going children were given school bags, T-shirts and bags and given plates of mouth-watering food.