The tiny hamlet community of Schlip was this week overjoyed when they received something that many Namibians have for long taken for granted: they got to listen to radio for the first time in their village. And those with sufficient means can now buy television sets. Not that they were unable to do so before, but simply because they now have television coverage in Schlip as well, which they did not have before.
Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tjekero Tweya, was in Schlip on Thursday to commission the coverage of TV and radio at the village.
“Most of us thought we will be departing this world without ever listening to radio or watching television in our own language, but finally out of the blue we got what we always wanted,” an elderly Kotie Isaaks said.
“It’s like our dignity is restored,” said Julien Isaaks, a young person who is the village health assistant.
Schlip is a rustic village of just over 300 square kilometres in size that is home to a population of about 3 000 people.
It is in Rehoboth Rural Constituency in Hardap Region. Oddly the village is considered as an island because it is communal land that is sandwiched by privately owned land – owned by land barons, some of whom do not live on farms.
To arrive at Schlip one has to leave the main B1 road just west of Rehoboth and drive on the gravel road for 90 kilometres. The village has two primary schools and a junior secondary school. Rehoboth Rural Constituency, under which Schlip falls, has been ranked among the poorest constituencies in the country.
Excited young people point out that they can now use Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter when in the village.
Addressing the community, Tweya slammed some community members who allegedly claim that government has not done anything for the southerners since independence.
Speaking in Afrikaans, Tweya said such statements are perpetuated by those who want to see that government appears to have failed, labelling such people “prophets of doom”.
“To those prophets of doom who never appreciate why they themselves have eaten something when somebody, in this case the government, at least considers to feed those that are hungry, even if it is for a day to see the next day, then they complain and say don’t give them food because you will make them dependent,” said Tweya.
Hardap Regional Governor Esme Isaack urged residents not to use the services to promote hatred or cause division.
“Let us put the services to good use,” she said, while urging residents to pay for their TV licence in order to qualify to purchase a Namibia Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) decoder.
She also called on residents to guard the infrastructure against vandalism.
“Let us Harambee and guard the peace we are enjoying today for the sake of progress and prosperity,” she said.
The occasion was attended by representatives of most stakeholders, such as New Era Publication Corporation’s (NEPC) chief executive officer Dr Audrin Mathe, Namibia Press Agency chief executive officer Isack Hamata, Powercom chief executive officer Alisa Amupolo, Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia chief executive Festus Mbandeka and NBC director-general Stanley Similo.
Also in attendance were MTC board chairperson Elvis Nashilongo, Telecom acting managing director Theo Klein and Huawei’s managing director Wallace Yin.
NEPC donated three copies of New Era for three months to the Schlip Constituency office, while NBC donated two television and two radio sets. Huawei donated ten mobile handsets.