Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Week 11 Elise Rudolph & Abigail Struxness

New perspectives in Windhoek
This week we transitioned back toliving in Windhoek from being on Spring Break for the week. Most of us went toVictoria Falls in Zimbabwe or Zambia and had a great time! The falls werebeautiful and there was a lot to do including white water rafting, bungee
jumping, and observing the wildlife. It was interesting to be in a new culture
and experiencing another country in Africa.
In our classes, we enjoyed hearingfrom speakers from a variety of less represented groups in Namibia. In ourReligion class, we had a speaker come to talk to us about making the connection
between human rights and religion. The man that came to speak described himself
as a half Communist; half Christian which was a combination I have never heard
before. He made some great points about homosexuality in Namibia that I really
enjoyed. He explained about how in Namibia gay people are mistreated and not
accepted in society, but there are so many other issues going on that this
should be the least of his worries. There are men, women, and children that are
struggling to survive, starving, and suffering, but people choose to focus on
how to punish those who are openly gay. He began to laugh at the ridiculousness
of the situation, which made the whole class laugh in return. It made me happy
to know that there were some people with their head on straight and made me
hopeful for the future of the gay community in Namibia.
In history, we visited the University of Namibia to hear a lecture from a history professor there. He is an AfrikaansNamibian and he gave us an interesting and unique perspective on the history ofwhites in Southern Africa. He specifically highlighted the historic differences
between the English colonists and the Dutch or Boer settlers. In the 1800s, the
British in power did not practice apartheid, instead they had a more liberal
outlook on the native people in South Africa. They allowed Africans to get
civil rights, and own property. It was the Boers, who were traditionally poor
farmers, who advocated for policies of separateness because they felt
economically threatened by both the better educated English and the African
farmers. As they rose to political power, they employed apartheid, which lasted
in Namibia until independence in 1991. It was very interesting to hear this
part of Namibia and South Africa’s history, and to get the chance to visit the
University of Namibia, which is the largest university in the country.
Indevelopment class this week, we discussed gender and the struggles women must
face in Namibia. We went on a field trip to visit Sister Namibia, a feminist non-profit advocacy organization. Theorganization produces their own magazine to reach out and empower women in thecommunity. The women we spoke to voiced frustration that Namibia still faces
gender based violence despite the fact that Namibia’s constitution promotes
gender equality. One woman specialized in working with young women to educate
them about their bodies and sexuality. Like many non-profit organization in
Namibia, Sister Namibia is strugglingto get funding from international donors to keep their programs running. It wasunfortunate to hear because the women that worked there were so passionateabout women’s rights but lacked the money to make their dreams a reality. We
left the organization feeling empathetic towards the victims that we heard
about in the presentation, but also hopeful that the future will be much
brighter. All in all, it was refreshing to learn from speakers whose
perspectives are in the minority here in Namibia.

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