“We’ll translate it into other languages and broadcast across Namibia. And ... make a TV show too. Everyone must see what the San can do.”
Do you remember that idea I had for an educational radio drama to be made for Ju|’hoan listeners in conjunction with the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC)?
Well, my employer, the University of Wolverhampton, thought the idea good enough to invest in, so they sponsored a fact-finding mission to establish stakeholder interest in the proposal. I was also to secure the necessary permissions prior to applying for external funding for the project.
I began my trip in Windhoek, capital city of Namibia, where I was invited by my future bid partner, Ms Menesia Muinjo, to her management meeting to present the idea. Menesia is the charming Head of News and Programming. Effortlessly she combines the roles of boss, friend and mother, motivating a team to produce daily broadcasts across 10 radio stations and 3 television channels, sometimes for up to 18 hours a day, despite very limited resources – i.e. untrained staff, outdated equipment and a budget most BBC execs. wouldn’t get out of bed for.
The NBC are fired up about making a radio drama using the talents of local Ju|’hoan speakers and have a far-reaching vision for it. “We’ll translate it into other languages and broadcast across Namibia. And our DG [NBC Director General, Mr Similo] wants us to make a TV show too. Everyone must see what the San can do,” Menesia bubbled.
We began gathering approval for the idea from stakeholders and their representatives. Menesia had a hotline to the musically named, Hon. Royal /Ui/o/oo, Deputy Minister of Marginalized Communities in Namibia. (Suck your teeth for the first syllable, then make a champagne cork-popping sound twice, for the next two. Cha-cha for the tongue.) He enthused at length and segued into requesting a drama for every San group.
(You may recall that the Ju|’hoan are one of several groups of click-language speakers still found in Namibia.)
Meanwhile I visited Kileni Fernandu, secretary of the newly formed San Council of Namibia. I felt apprehensive; she has a reputation as fierce guardian of San rights. No doubt she is, but also extremely courteous, (I’ve never felt as closely listened to as I did by this young woman) warm and helpful. Can't wait to share koeksusters with her again.
Next, a meeting with the Director of Adult Literacy in Namibia, Mr Beans (yes, really!) Ngatjiseko and his team, about dovetailing the drama with the Adult Literacy curriculum and literacy promoters in the province of Otjozondjupa in some way, when the time comes. Fine in theory, but they too operate under severe budget constraints in a country where government spending is being curbed.
Finally, it was time to take my idea to the people of Nyae Nyae. Menesia put the NBC’s four-wheel truck and off-road driver, the station manager of !Ah radio herself, at my disposal in Nyae Nyae. All I had to do now was get there.
African novelist, writing tutor and UK academic.