20 May 2019

Namibia: 'Struggle Kids' Yearn for Better Days

CHILDREN of the liberation struggle say they still face a lot of hardships, and struggle to put bread on the table.

The group met in Windhoek on Saturday to share experiences on their lives after the deaths of their parents during the struggle for Namibia's independence.

Speaking during an information-sharing session on Saturday, the group's spokesperson, Borro Ndungula, said some of their parents returned from exile only with mattresses and blankets.

Close to 30 years after Namibia gained independence, he stated, it is disheartening to find that many 'struggle kids' linger about uneducated, unemployed and suffering.

Their appeal to the government to address their plight had fallen on deaf ears, he said.

He also questioned what is celebratory about national anthem lyrics 'whose blood waters our freedom', when they as dependants of those people have been forgotten, adding that there is an unfair contrast between the lives of 'struggle kids' whose parents are still alive, and those whose parents died before independence.

Speaking about not being properly integrated into society, other 'struggle kids' mentioned various issues, from not being able to give their parents dignified burials to the heartbreak that came with finding out about the identities of their biological parents after their death.

Monica Nambelela stressed the need and importance of counselling for the 'children of the liberation struggle', saying many still have not digested what happened to them. Reminiscing on her own experiences, she related how she had to cohabitate with a man when she was 16-years-old in a bid to survive.

"There was nobody else to protect me," she remembered. Nambelela appealed for the setting up of developmental projects to rehabilitate the 'struggle kids', whom she described as being trapped in the vicious cycle of generational poverty.

"It's a disappointment that women in leadership did not go out and ask our mothers how they could have been assisted," she added.

Furthermore, she implored storytellers to step in to assist 'struggle kids' to tell their stories as they are not being told fully. Tuufilwa Sheehama (39) said she has had to take up a number of odd jobs to survive, until she was employed by the Namibian Defence Force recently.

Her father died during the 1978 Cassinga Massacre, leaving his heavily pregnant wife with the immense task of having to give birth to and single-handedly raise their child during the struggle.

Sheehama appealed to the government to assist them quickly, and reasoned that "most of the people who can understand our situation are retiring.


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