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Onameya’s village librarian

Written by on April 29, 2024

…young woman opens rural library to nurture reading culture

After struggling to secure a job after graduation, Regina Kandishishi (30) decided to open a library at her home village of Onameya in the Oshikoto region.

The engineering graduate had fallen into depression due to being unemployed and bought self-help books to help her get through this challenging period of her life. She soon realised that children at her village were not as privileged as her to have access to books.

“I loved reading from a young age and I would say I got life advice from books more than people,” she says.

She decided to start sending books to the village from Windhoek once she was done reading them. Using her own resources, Kandishishi also began building a library at Onameya last November.

“Another aim of building the library is to promote a reading culture. Reading is one of the best ways to improve people’s thinking ability.”

Kandishishi was born in Windhoek and attended school at Onameya. During her time at school, she said not all pupils had access to the school library.

She completed a degree in mechanical engineering in 2017 at the University of Science and Technology and obtained a diploma in civil engineering from Nantong Vocational University in 2021.

Kandishishi says she spent nearly N$16 000 for building materials and labour, using clay bricks sourced from the plot for building.

“After negotiating with people who assisted me with bricklaying, plastering and floor casting, I fixed the roof and painted the 18m2 library,” she says.

“I decided to share my books with my immediate community members with the hope that the young ones will get time to read these books. I hope they make time mostly during weekends and holidays and get the knowledge about some life facts that I’ve learned a little bit late in life.”

Kandishishi says she started saving money for the construction of the library two years ago and encountered some challenges during the process such as sourcing land, a lack of finances for construction materials, labour and books, as well as water shortages. However, the library was successfully completed last month.

The response from the community has been positive so far, with parents welcoming the initiative in the hopes that their children benefit from gaining knowledge, as well as avoid peer pressure and negative influences.

The library has a range of books, including science books, self-help books, fiction and non-fiction in English and Oshindonga, as well as textbooks, newspapers, and magazines.

However, there is a need for more Oshindonga books, she says.

Due to the library’s location, books cannot be borrowed but can be used freely within the library, she adds.

According to Kandishishi, a collective effort is needed to change our communities for the better, particularly in the rural areas.

The Namibian spoke to pupils who have been making use of the library since it opened its doors to the community.
Ebison Uusiku (17), a Grade 9 pupil, says he enjoys going to the library after school to read books to boost his vocabulary and improve his English.

Grade 10 pupil Bernadette Shaalukeni (19) says she loves reading Oshindonga language books but they are few at the library.

“We want internet, that way we can access any materials or books we do not have at the library to help us do our homework,” says Teofelus Nghifikwa (16).

Community member Elia Henock (21) says he likes keeping himself busy at the library, where he hopes to find storybooks or newspapers to read.

Onameya village headman Leonard Nangolo Kuja (69) commended Kandishishi for her project.

“I support her idea because it will benefit the pupils at the village, to gain more knowledge by accessing reading materials.”
He called for added support to enable Kandishishi to expand the project.

Kandishishi’s brother Adrian Kandishishi says the library is not just a hub of learning for pupils but also caters for community members.

“Some members of the community who are illiterate also come to learn how to read at the library,” he says, calling on community members to donate books to the library.

Meanwhile, education, arts and culture executive director Sanet Steenkamp welcomed the initiative.

“I love it that due consideration was given by a citizen, to invest and take time to bring books and learning closer to the people. I am truly proud and so touched. I am in awe, a library can present different things to different people.”

Steenkamp says the library offers access to books, peace and quiet, new knowledge and the opportunity to meet people, which is important.


Information communication and technology spokesperson Shoki Kandjimi says the ministry facilitates a digital literacy initiative nationwide, initiated in 2019 through assistance from the Digital for Development Hub under the African Union-European Union partnership, which was boosted last year with support from Estonia.

“The primary objective is to address the digital divide by enhancing digital skills and inclusion among citizens,” says Kandjimi.

Over 1 000 Namibians have been equipped with digital literacy skills to date, with training sessions in the Zambezi, Otjozondjupa, Oshana, Omusati, Oshikoto, Khomas, Kavango East, Erongo, Kavango West, Omaheke, //Kharas, Hardap, Ohangwena and Kunene regions during the previous financial year (2023/2024), he adds.

Kandjimi says the programme’s success empowers participants and their communities to influence digital platforms for personal and communal benefit. Participants can also utilise computers and explore opportunities within the digital space.

The post Onameya’s village librarian appeared first on The Namibian.

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