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Alcohol – the Aftermath August 9, 2007

Posted by isabelleinnamibia in Communication, Culture, Fame, Ovitoto.
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As I wrote before, I held an Alcohol Awareness Campaign in the Ovitoto School a few weeks ago, which was also attended by a journalist from “The Namibian”, the national English-language newspaper. She was incredibly passionate about the issue of alcohol amongst youth and was terribly excited about what I had to say.

“Keep your eye on the Youth Paper on Tuesday” she said, the Youth Paper being a weekly supplement of the national paper, focussing on youth issues.

Needless to say, the following Tuesday, there I was, plastered across the front page of the Youth Paper, rather unglamourously scratching my head whilst supervising a group of learners as they scribbled down ideas on why people drink. No story this week, but a caption explaining that the story will be followed up the next week.

Inside the supplement were lots of the kids who were in the Youth “Faces and Places”. Since I was visiting Ovitoto that morning, I dashed out and bought three copies for the school, as no newspapers are available within Ovitoto. At break-time, I presented the papers to Mr Katuvesiauena (try pronouncing that one), the school’s Principal. For the first time, he actually agreed to and seemed happy to talk to me, and I swear I caught a glimpse of a smile.

“Yes. Very good. You are putting this place on the map of Namibia. We here are very grateful. Yes.”

He went shouting off to the staff room to show his colleagues. I hope the kids were able to see the copies.

Knowing that the story would be followed up the next week, I was eager to get my hands on a copy. But having spent Monday night in the village in preparation for the DRFN’s Workshop on Wheels visit (see next story), I wasn’t able to get a copy until I returned to the main road. The workshop visitors however had a copy on the bus, and as we drove the gravel road from Ovitoto after their visit, he thrust a paper in my face, saying “Is that you?”. It wasn’t that he’d read my name, or the mention of Ovitoto, but that I was wearing exactly the same clothes as I was in the photos, and being an oshilumbu amongst a crowd of black kids, I stand out quite a lot. And there were a lot of photos. I was in 4 out of the 5. In fact, they had a whole page about the workshop, explaining about the issue of alcohol, the activities we did and where the idea for the workshop came from. There was however an embarrassing number of “Isabelle said that….”, “Isabelle then explained to the learners…”, which made me sound like the national guru on all things alcohol related. But the coverage was excellent, and alcohol abuse amongst youth is now on the forefront of news headlines.

The workshop was even mentioned again this week (making it three weeks in a row!!), with a copy of the Responsible Drinking brochure that I prepared for the workshop.

All this coverage has also boosted the profile of the K J Kapeua School in Ovitoto but also my profile. I’m a mini-local-celebrity. A few of my friends have commented “oh, I saw you in the Youth Paper this week”, but the place I first got recognised was my local bottle shop (which I go to for phone credit and juice, rarely booze!). And when I went out on the Friday night to our local club.

“Sista, I saw you in the paper. Alcohol Awareness, hey? You going to be teaching us something then?”, slurred one friend, as I try to hide my G+T under my coat.  

I do practise what I preach though. I rarely over-do it anymore, am aware of how much I drink, and take responsibility for my actions and behaviour. I have never thought that “I was drunk” as an excuse to justify any inebriated behaviour, such as getting overly emotional, aggressive, fighting, bitching, being an idiot, getting sick, drink-driving or inappropriate hook-ups. My opinion is that if you can control yourself, then don’t drink. It’s a lesson that the binge-drinking culture of my homeland, and some of the alcoholic expats, could learn from.

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