Wednesday 14 April 2021
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Liberation wounds taking long to heal

“An ideal scenario after independence, should have been for the church, politicians and traditional leaders to come together and discuss the way forward on how to re-integrate veterans and their dependants into an independent Namibia” stated Dr Shapaka Kapolo, Spiritual Counsellor at the Ministry of Veteran Affairs.
The Veterans Affairs Act of 2008 defines a veteran as a member of the liberation forces, provided the person was above 18 years of age on 21 March 1990. Whilst a dependant of a veteran can be either a spouse, relative or child of a deceased or living veteran.  To that end, the Veteran Affairs ministry is mandated with the socio-economic integration of both veterans and their dependents.
“My office caters for veterans and their dependents who by extension could be children of the liberation struggle.  I initiated the spiritual counselling programme three years ago after meeting with Dr Nickey Iyambo and identifying the need for spiritual counselling which should complement the efforts of the ministry of Veteran Affairs in rehabilitating veterans.
I then wrote a proposal whilst I was at the Council of Churches which was discussed by cabinet. Thereafter I was assigned to conduct a pilot study for three months in Khomas region to determine the need for spiritual counselling of veterans which was met with approval by cabinet to establish office” shared Kapolo.
According to Kapolo, spiritual counselling has four legs which are healing of the personhood, sustaining the person which compliments guiding them towards a sense of belonging and interconnectedness as well as reconciliation which is fundamentally nation-building.
“I now propose that for the struggle kids, rehabilitation should have a reconciliatory focus with their families and society. Whilst my office does not cater for them directly, I believe that they also need the services we offer because whilst we are taking care of their parents, it is important that we also assist them similarly.
For them it is fundamentally an identity issue and not just being integrated into society like the veterans. This is because some of these children were born outside Namibia and when they returned, they were not familiar with their families as some of their parents died in the war.
Also they did not go through the cultural nor religious practices common to the birth of a new child in the family” explained Kapolo.
“The idea of counselling is to help you forget what you have experienced. As a spiritual counsellor I use two methods; as a Christian my primary method is to direct the person to the cross and the Bi ble and this is optional because not everyone is necessarily a Christian. That is why we are open to what eventually brings healing and in the African culture we have various traditional healing practices.
For the Aawambo, many can relate to ‘Omudhime’ plant (translates switch off or wipe out). So, I also have two types of omudhime branches. The green branches I would explain to the person, means that what is not confessed is still green, fresh and alive in the persons mind, whilst the dead leaves mean that the past is wiped out and is dead and forgotten. So, this is one of the cultural practices I use for counselling veterans”.
Asked whether counselling was also made available for national leaders in public office, Kapolo shared that the spiritual counselling programme is fully endorsed by the Founding Father, Dr Sam Nujoma who was the keynote speaker during its launch three years ago.
“This counselling is also for national leaders and I definitely meet with politicians as well as army leaders because they are all war veterans and this programme was designed to meet their spiritual needs to overcome memories that might haunt them after the liberation struggle” he shared.
According to Kapolo, there is a need to demystify counselling in Namibia.
“I always say that just because someone seeks spiritual or psychological counselling does not mean the person is a sinner or unstable. It just means that they need peace of mind and the need is often bigger after traumatic events such as war” he stressed.

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