"The Ombili School, near Tsumeb" Top 5 Page for this destination Namibia Travelogue by 850prc

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Polishing the future for the San (Bushman) peoples

The Ombili foundation and school, located near Tsumeb in northern Namibia, is dedicated to providing education and training to the previously nomadic San people of the region.

Supported largely by the Lions' Club of Mosbach, Germany, Ombili (which means peace) was founded in 1989. In addition to school for about 300 children, ages 4 - 16 or so, the foundation provides training in agriculture, supports health care, and helps the native peoples to hone and market their native crafts as a business. Ombili is giving these ancient people a really good opportunity to tame the 21st century.

Something to really smile about

Ombili, besides being a school, supports several different healthcare initiatives. This is the 1st San generation that will really be familiar with the ideas of modern medicine and dentistry.

As for dentistry, one of the first things an Ombili kindergartener learns is how to brush his or her teeth. These Ombili kids really love tooth-brushing time. And, when they're done, their favorite thing is to throw the remaining water (from their cup) into the sky. When you're taking their photographs, it's something you need to be aware of.

Traditional ways still exist in the village

In the Bushman village that now surrounds the Ombili school, many traditional practices still exist. This would include steps for preparing a meal.

Native crafts, both art and income

The Ombili foundation encourages the continued practice of native craft-making. While functional in the sense that the people make items for which their lives still have use, it also offers another source of sustainable income.

Many of the crafts made by the resident San are for sale at Ombili, effectively cutting out the middleman. All profits go straight to the school and community.

Family Ties, throughout the village

There is an extremely strong bond of family among the San people. They know and honor their descendants, and they all care for the children of the village. In general, we noted that each few years of life seemed to bring another level of responsibility for the San to care for his or her younger brothers and sisters.

Community and family are the same thing in the Bushman world.

A warm musical welcome for visitors

Ombili has a choir, composed mostly of older students. They are excellent, performing a repertoire that includes western church songs, traditional Namibian and African tunes and German musik.

Most of their songs are done "a capella", as in unaccompanied by a musical instrument. Occasionally, a drummer joins in.

There are CDs available at Ombili of this talented choir's work. We bought one, and to this day enjoy the magic of their perfectly blended voices singing about Africa.

New San learning the old ways

This little San boy was hanging around watching his elders pound the millet seed into the makings of a bowl of porridge.

We kept fretting that he'd get his tiny fingers mashed, but somehow he managed to stay just out of harm's way.

  • Page Updated Aug 2, 2003
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