The plight of our native people

Jemima Beukes
San people are not lazy, as often portrayed, but are abused and exploited on an industrial scale.

This according to Richard Kxao, part of a San community based in the Tsumkwe area, who said there is no substantive employment for the San in the vicinity and even if they get odd jobs, they are exploited.

“The San are not lazy people. When we find a job, we are abused and people treat us as if we are retarded small children,” he said.

“When you have agreed on a salary, they will change it along the way and at month end, they give you half or a fraction of that. Some say they don’t have enough money now while others simply take out N$20 and say ‘go buy yourself a nippie' [a small bottle of hard liquor, usually 200ml],” he said.

He added that there are instances when they agree to work for groceries, including home-brews and tobacco, but that does not mean that is what they prefer to be compensated with – rather, it shows that they are willing to compromise.

“Now, people are saying we like to drink, but in all communities you find people who drink,” he said.

Pushed out of schools

The community also complained that their learners are deliberately pushed out of Tsumkwe schools that are allegedly teeming with learners from other communities from as far as Otjiwarongo and Okahandja.

Kxao, a leader in the Aasvoelnes community, was accompanying several children - who have been out of school for two years because of a lack of space - to Tsumkwe. He alleged that there is a deliberate agenda by political and business leaders to paint the San people as "lazy", with "no interest in education".

Tsumkwe Secondary School principal Christof Ngavetene said the notion that the San are ‘stupid’ and ‘unteachable’ people is an absolute myth.

“Academically, there is no difference between the San and other learners. Last year, we had four learners who scored 25 and more points and four of those learners are San learners. We even have one learner who scored 36 points in the last examinations. They are smart,” he said.

Teachers at Tsumkwe Secondary told Namibia Media Holdings they do not follow up when San learners do not report to school because they live “deep in villages” where there is no reception, and there is a problem with transport.

This despite government buses being available to collect learners from various villages in the area.