AT the time of writing this columnist was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, attending the African Youth Conference on Democracy and Social Justice. He passed through South Africa and Kenya. From Hosea Kutako Airport to Johannesburg this writer was in the company of Anna Azo Akweenda; a dear friend. This columnist met Anna at the University of Namibia while studying for his first degree; the Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies and History. Anna was, and so remains, a well-known student and youth activist.
We knew her as ‘Azo’. She is a dynamic young lady; a young lady of rhythm and spirit. She has big dreams and is never afraid of proclaiming these dreams. Indeed, being brave is one of her greatest qualities. She will defend even her weakest of ideas. Anna is an epitome of what we have been advocating for in the narrative of perfumed vis-à-vis non-perfumed women particularly the need for the struggle for the emancipation of women in our country to place young women at the centre; the idea that current focus should change from perfumed women desirous of corporate positions to young women with a burning desire for social justice. When this columnist articulated this narrative of perfumed/non-perfumed women on Twitter; First Lady Monica Geingos took issue with this narrative.
We had a heated exchange that ended in agreeing to disagree. She had a problem with the way this columnist articulated the perspective on perfumed women. This columnist, on his part, had a problem with her then reluctance to accept that current struggles for women emancipation favours older perfumed women who are desirous of corporate positions and not young women. Life generally manifests itself in interesting ways; we are now aware that First Lady Monica Geingos has been appointed as an international advocate/ambassador for young women. This is a good development in the life and struggle of young women. We must congratulate her and urge young women to be more determined. The young women we must cheer on include Anna.
In 2008, a group of colleagues and this columnist resolved that this writer must take up the challenge of contesting for the position of President of the Students Representative Council at the University of Namibia. We were concerned with the lack of energy and general empathy that characterised student politics at the time. It bothered some of us that students did not project themselves nor capture any place in mainstream national discourse. Their concerns remained locked up in limited hostel rooms and lecture halls. This, for a university that should ordinarily be the centre of transformation, we could not accept. We introduced a radical campaign that challenged what we called ‘elites of student union’ who had control of the SRC and had prioritised braais, boobs, bashes and booze instead of radical student politics.
We eventually won the elections and this columnist became the 2009 SRC president. Anna Akweenda was central in this campaign together with Lukas ‘powerful’ Shekwaanyena and many other students who were yearning for a radical transformation of society. In fact, Azo was the campaign manager. She ensured that students stood up and voted. This columnist recalls at one interval where Anna was dealing decisively with a student activist called Kelly, who was supporting a colleague in opposition to our campaign, who was being reactionary by removing our posters. This was Anna’s response to Kelly; “You are the type of people we need to deal with at this university. You don’t deserve oxygen”. I still laugh at this response. That is an assertive Anna Azo Akweenda; a young lady of talent and energy – full of rhythm and spirit. She is passionate about the work she does. Anna is a reliable friend. Had this space been for sentimentalism and not reflection for the public good I would delve into the friendship. The personal friendship content and character, I must immediately submit, is for the personal space. The concern herein is the narrative of Anna as part of young women with rhythm and spirit whose story must be told to inspire thousands of other young women.
There were times she slugged academically causing this columnist to call her to order. At times she doesn’t realise the potential inherent in her. Be that as it may, she eventually graduated and became a teacher, choosing to go back to her hometown, Tsumeb, to teach at one of the local schools. If you wish to assess whether she continued with her dynamism after university, you only need to visit the Tsumeb education circuit and the Oshikoto education directorate records to discover who has been scooping Accounting awards consistently over the years. That is Anna; a young lady of women with rhythm and spirit.
When this columnist was in South Africa for further studies, Anna would constantly communicate to him urging him to come back so that we can discuss her vision. There have been instances, this columnist admits, were he never took her seriously for he thought Anna was just being Anna. It was her insistence that made this columnist realise that this dear friend of his is serious. But it was when she started her company, Azo Photography, that this columnist realised that she is now more determined than ever – in putting into practice part of most of our discussions. We discussed a foundation she wanted to establish, went through the rough notes and settled for AAA (taken from Anna Azo Akweenda). This columnist did not hear from her until several months later. In 2015, she visited this columnist at his office at the University of Namibia to deliver the good news; “We are launching AAA and I want you to be a keynote speaker” she stated passionately. Anna was quitting her job as a teacher in Tsumeb to focus on AAA Namibia and Azo Photography. This columnist had difficulty in supporting her decision to quit her job and did not frankly support it. He later realised that she is determined and the chances of succeeding in changing her mind were slim. He resolved to support her. On the 24th of September 2015, AAA was officially launched at Protea Furstenhof Hotel in Windhoek. Let the website of AAA Namibia www.aaanam.org take over the description of AAA: “AAA has identified the current situation in Namibia as that the many learners are not taking and utilising the opportunities presented to them, while some are not offered such opportunities to begin with, as well as an alarmingly high failure rate, lack of extra-curricular activities, limited career guidance and a lack of positive role models and mentors for learners. AAA Namibia has taken it upon itself to assist the Ministry of Education in addressing these issues… Prior to and after its launch, the organisation launched a mentorship program at Etosha Secondary School, as well hosted its first youth seminar in Tsumeb, with various learners from surrounding schools in attendance. The seminar is to become an annual event, and along with the mentorship programme, joins a list of other AAA projects namely: Career fairs, youth camps, tutorials and English literacy among others.”
We should celebrate young women like Anna. We should celebrate initiatives of young women like AAA. This is important for a vision of a Namibia reborn; a Namibia that will not relent, equivocate or compromise!
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015