Namibia: Tears Flow for Woman Who Raised 25 Kids

JAFET /Uxamb weeps as the casket is lowered.

He remembers the first day he saw the face of his adoptive mother, Elfriede /Uxamb.

It was in 1993.

He was living under a bridge at Otjiwarongo as an eight-year-old, but his life changed forever when Elfriede and her husband, Manfred /Uxamb, found him and took him in.

They also took in Jan, another street child.

The couple, who has four biological sons, eventually raised 25 children - 21 of whom they adopted.

Manfred became the first democratically elected mayor of Otjiwarongo in 1992.

"I haven't known any other mother in my life; she was my mother. She raised me and gave me a family," says Jafet, who does not know his real age.

Jafet is a married man today, with three children of his own.

Elfriede, who was known as the first lady of Otjiwarongo, succumbed to Covid-19 at the age of 65 two weeks ago.

Her funeral was on Saturday.

"I used to live under a bridge when my mom and dad found Jan and myself. I was maybe eight or nine years old, but I don't know, because we didn't have birth certificates or identity documents. She used to scold me, correct me and help me. I am a married man now with three children. None of this would have happened if it was not for her," Jafet said.

Jan says he will never forget Elfriede.

"It comforts me to be in the house we grew up in. It feels like she will show herself any moment, and this nightmare will not be true," he said.

Elfriede's niece Nama Mbakera, who has spent many weekends at the /Uxamb home, took on the task of feeding the mourners after the funeral.

"Where will I find a mother like her again? She was a pillar of strength to me - a confidante, an auntie and a guide," she said.

Following the guidance of the /Uxamb couple, Mbakera is now the chairperson of the Otjiwarongo Regional Council.

Amid the gathering a little girl, who was named after Elfriede, approached Manfred with tears streaming down her face.

Little Elfriede is the daughter of Baby Lubumba, who is a Democratic Republic of Congo national and has been like a son to Elfriede and Manfred since 1996.

"My father, you must be strong," Lubumba told Manfred.

Nelson /Uxamb, one of the couple's biological sons, said they were raised as one big, happy family, and no distinction was made between the biological and adopted children.

"She taught me how to ride a bike, and to read. Our house was always full of people. You would ask: Who is this, and who is that one now? But they were all her children, and if you were home at mealtimes, anyone who was there would eat," he said.

On any given day, there were over 25 dinner plates to wash.

Church leaders, the business community, politicians and family members all paid tribute to Elfriede on Saturday.

They remembered her generosity, love, problem-solving abilities and her open-door policy.

Others mentioned that she was a prolific farmer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist.

But to all present, the enduring memory was of Elfriede as a mom.

AllAfrica publishes around 800 reports a day from more than 100 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.