Indongo Yakelu — An aspiring Namibian aircraft and mechanical engineer has assembled a helicopter, a car and a motorbike all from scrap metal, debunking the notion that people who struggle academically cannot do anything in life. The aspiring engineer is Mateus Mundjembo aged 18.
He is a Grade 8 learner at Omboto Combined School, situated on the outskirts of Omuthiya in Oshikoto Region.
He says he realised his dream as a handyman after he developed a helicopter, a car and a motorbike from scrap materials that he scavenged from his neighbourhood.
Mundjembo has become a celebrity at his village of Indongo Yakelu.
His interest to design and assemble things started when he was 11 years old making wire toys. He would make any type of toys for his friends and even sold some of his creations.
As time went by, his ideas and dreams grew bigger, until last year when he decided to challenge himself to design and make a car, using iron rods and zinc sheets.
After successfully completing the car, he went on to build a zinc helicopter. The helicopter was designed with simple technology consisting of a car battery, a motor from a household fan and it is fitted with a two-rotor system consisting of the main rotor and a tail rotor.
"I realised I am good at doing things with my hands, that's how I decided to challenge myself to do something exceptional. I managed to assemble the car in three weeks, by collecting scrap metals, since I live in a village I had to collect them from town. But with the availability of material I can finish in two weeks. The same goes for the helicopter," said Mundjembo, when New Era caught up with him at school. His dedication and determination could be attested as next to his desk on the wall, hangs a picture of a likeness of a red Ferrari with a caption, "Never end, never give up".
Mundjembo, took New Era to see his first car and a helicopter that are all amazing pieces and are the work of a rare talent. The exciting moment was, however, short-lived as the helicopter could not take off because its motor could not start as it was saturated by rain water. This was not the case with his 'Ferrari', as it moved around the village attracting hordes of onlookers from nearby cuca shops. "It is really impressive," shouted one community member from the crowd as he drove it.
"This car has a mini-boot where I can store my things, you should have seen it when I first made it, no one on a bicycle could overtake me, it was very fast," bragged the youngster.
"Unfortunately, due to the rain the helicopter cannot fly now, because the motor is not responding. But to be honest, it can fly for up to 10 metres high. But I am always afraid I might go higher and I might lose control," he said with a hint of caution.
One of his teachers, Rosa Shipanga, said she was impressed with Mundjembo's deed, thus she wants to see him prosper in that field, because academically he is not gifted. "In theoretical subjects, he performs poorly, only when it comes to arts and science. Therefore I hope with this new curriculum he should just push until Grade 9, get his certificate and then proceed to technical institutions," emphasised Shipanga, adding that her student was once awarded a certificate for being a best learner in artwork.
On his part, Mundjembo, appealed for assistance as he would not want to let his talent go to waste. "I will push forward until Grade 9, after that I really appeal for support so that I can be sent to a technical school to further my natural talent. If possible, I would like to become an aircraft maintenance engineer or an auto mechanic," said Mundjembo.