Donkerhoek residents pray for better days

April 27, 2015, 9:04am

Donkerhoek residents pray for better days

Darkness and misery is all that the people of Donkerhoek, an impoverished settlement in Khorixas, can relate about their plight.
Here you easily find young girls loitering around shebeens after leaving their sickly grandparents to fix their makeshift homes made of cloth, paper, rusted iron plates and even sticks to keep the snakes out.
“Anyone can come in here, even a snake was here yesterday,” said Kauriza Kasupi, who lives in a one-room shack with his wife and 12 children.
“It is very difficult for us who do not have schooling to find jobs. Those who have schooling do not want to work,” Kasupi says, his hopelessness emphasised by a sigh.
But according to Kasupi’s illiterate neighbour Sagues Tjirora, who served as our interpreter as we moved around the location, it serves no purpose to work on neighbouring farms, where workers are paid only a paltry N$300 without food and accommodation allowances.
“What must I do with N$300? It is nothing, I have a child who must eat and who wants things... I cannot even pay for water,” he said.
Sagues and many of Donkerhoek residents live in shacks which they have built out of scrap material.
“I have been applying for a house for over five years now and I am still waiting. They (the local authority) have given me this plot, but because we have no school, they just make us feel happy by giving us empty promises,” he said.
Opposite Tjirora’s house lives Venomamba Kandiimune, who had moved from Opuwo in search of better opportunities, like many of the people who live in Donkerhoek.
Peering through an old rugged truck window, which he has included to build his makeshift shack, Kandiimune says he worked on a neighbouring farm.
He said he was chased off the farm when he asked his boss for food.
“How can you work without food? I told him ‘meneer, I have hunger’, then he started swearing and told me to leave his farm. He even said I can go to the police.”
Meanwhile, a handful of Donkerhoek residents are trying to overcome their economic hardships.
Although profit is a far-fetched idea in a location where everyone is trying to turn their cents into dollars to make ends meet, women like Angelika Tjizu, Nandjara Muthenuya and Martha Menda are trying to make the best out of their circumstances.
Tjizu, who lives with her three children and grandchildren, makes Himba dolls that she sells to tourists.
However, since very few tourists come to the town her business is on the verge of collapse.
“I will have to travel to Okaukeujo to sell these things there,” she said.
Just in front of Tjizu’s house - under a tree that serves as a marketplace - Nandjara and her colleague Menda sell traditional alcohol called ‘Ombindo’ to provide for their families.
Although many complain that this liquor is a health hazard that can kill, residents still buy it because it is cheap and it makes them forget their worries.
“This is poison, but it makes you drunk very quickly. You just buy from me one now and you will see how fast it works,” said our interpreter Tjirora.
Tjirora who also serves as an agent for the two women who cannot speak English, informs us that a half-jack is N$25, a nippy is N$20 and a tot goes for N$10.

Jemima Beukes: Namibian Sun in Khorixas