Andreas /Uxam – Namibia

Andreas /Uxam – Namibia

Date: July 1, 2015
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In the beginning, I thought when issues of gender were discussed in Outjo, it was only for women. The Traditional Authorities are very ignorant about these institutions. Issues of gender were offensive to me as Traditional leader, who is supposed to uphold norms on which our tradition was created by the masses in that jurisdiction. This time around, when women were interviewed by a facilitator, I asked also to be considered, and this request was granted. At the age of nearly 70 years, I realised gender is for both sexes.

In 2010, when I first met Gender Links people in town, I did not like the subjects they taught, like Key gender concepts and many others. Their ideas were not in conformity with the norms, traditions and values of the Traditional Authorities. I hail from this traditional standpoint, and gender was the last on my mind of topics to be introduced. I objected to the notion of gender and sex. In those days, gender was not an issue. Men were allowed to rule, even by nature. Issues of the bread winner were never discussed. Traditionally, the place of women was considered to be in the kitchen, looking after their husband, children and extended family. In those days the number of children was an issue that heavily depended on the husband’s choice. When presentations were made by the GL Facilitator, I was always interrupting her and asking her why she was speaking about women and gender, because there is no equality, and men must rule as a given “gift” from the All Mighty. At one point I told her, “these so-called gender activists are here to disrupt our Traditional norms and values, and they should be arrested by the police”. After all these workshops I am a “changed man”. Now I believe that if this training will reach more of the traditional leaders, it will open the door for more women leaders in many trades. I learned about taking care of my family and community. I learned more about climate change and gender equality.

Through the education I received from Gender Links, I am now better able to serve my community, and I now preach on gender issues. I cannot believe that I am now a gender champion in the Traditional Authority; just yesterday I was opposing any topic that was dealing with gender and women. I thought my traditional roles were being challenged by Gender Links, and my manhood was being compromised. I even influenced my other fellow Traditional leaders to oppose Gender Links workshops. Later, I realised that this was building my capacity and those of the others, to respect women’s rights and treat them humanly. I came to the conclusion that roles bestowed by our society must be challenged. Now, I pray to leave those roles that have a positive bearing on women and men in society, and change those that do not. Through this, I soon became a community traditional activist/leader, in turn becoming a headman of Outjo Constituency Traditional Authority.

My little daughters, I have seen the sun before you and have gone through many rivers of blood and sweat. I have not seen any women in Traditional leadership roles. But now I can give space one day to a woman leader. I am not sure society will appoint her. But let us try.

I am learning more, and able to teach the community what I have learned from Gender Links about gender and many other things. Traditions teach us to always be brave warriors. Warriors that will defend our family and the community we lead. I believe all men will change their mind sets for the betterment of our communities, particularly women. Even in traditional Authorities, women have no problems with a male figure. These norms also keep women behind in the kitchen. Now, I’ve started to implement gender balance in my own life with my wife and children. Now I am targeting women in the community. When I address my community, I speak about gender. How to influence our roles and assist one another in households and in my community. I have shocked many in the traditional community, that I, who was a staunch supporter of manhood will change my language today and speak about gender equality.



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