Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO)
The Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO) is a Namibian Trust aiming at creating social awareness using the Arts. With 20 years experience, this vibrant NGO has been working with most upper primary, combined and secondary schools in Namibia. Through a variety of tools (its exciting dance troupe, the OYO magazine, OYO educational DVDs, dramas presented by youth groups, weekend camps for girls, etc.), OYO addresses issues such as teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence, bullying, stigma and discrimination.
The dance group
The OYO dance troupe is the first and currently only troupe in Namibia employing young dancers as fulltime performers. Established in 2009, the troupe devises pieces of physical theatre addressing social issues such as teenage pregnancy, HIV, gender-based violence. It then presents its pieces in schools.
Presentations are followed by a facilitated discussion, allowing students to reflect on the pieces (‘if I were in the shoes of XXX I would have acted differently and done…’).
Pieces produced include ‘the Moirai’ on gender-based violence, ‘cold’ on HIV, ‘teacher’ on teenage pregnancy, ‘bin boy’ on cultural bullying, ‘Menarche’ and ‘Maria’ on child marriage. More recently the troupe developed numerous clips on COVID19.
Internationally the troupe represented Africa at the 2014 Commonwealth Youth Dance Festival in Glasgow. It also performed in the Netherlands, UK, Botswana and South Africa.
Projects in schools
OYO believes that solutions can only be found with young people for young people within a given context.
Each project works closely with students called learners in Namibia, their schools and, when applicable the surrounding communities. It uses non-threatening means of communication, including role-plays, dances, songs, its youth-friendly magazine and creates safe spaces. OYO believes that children and teenagers need to be reached more than once (to reinforce messages), using exciting mediums (to stimulate their attention) with simple, yet strong messages (to impact on their attitudes and behaviours).
“OYO’s application of the performing and visual arts in a highly participatory and learner centred pedagogy represents a model of excellence and best practice.”
Hon. Nangola Mbumba MP, then Minister for Education(currently Vice President of the Republic of Namibia), September 2009 OYO tries to visit each school several times with activities addressing all learners (OYO dance troupe,
OYO DVDs) and more in-depth activities addressing smaller groups of learners (OYO magazine, girls weekend camps, boys weekend camps). The number of schools benefiting of OYO’s activities each year is largely depending on funding.
Watch this video to find out more about a project on addressing the child marriage in the Kunene region : https://fb.watch/3jrcwfwNtg
Over the years OYO has realized that its products have a profound impact on some students. It soon became obvious that the plays and films needed to be presented with a trained youth counselor present to provide on-the-spot counseling. OYO then contracted a youth counselor, Njandee Mbarandongo. In order to follow up on the cases, OYO then decided to open a counseling line. The line was mostly for young people who had met the counselor in person and needed additional support.
Over past 2 years (2018 and 2019), 971 cases were attended face to face by the counselor. 60% of themcould be resolved with one session but approximately 40% of them were followed up and/or referred.
The phone number was therefore used with approximately 400 young people. At the beginning of the COVID19 crisis, OYO decided to open its line to young people who had not met the counselor face to face.
Between July and November 2020, 160 calls were received.
Since 2017 OYO has been addressing the issue of child marriage in Namibia. End 2020, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare released a National Formative Study on Child Marriage. Results show that the prevalence of early marriage in Namibia is 18.4%. By region, the highest prevalence of early marriage was reported in Kavango (39.7%) while Kunene (24%), Zambezi (23.8%), Omaheke (23%) and Otjozondjupa (22.6%) also recorded high levels. Oshana region (7%) had the lowest prevalence of child marriages. There are more early marriages in rural areas (22%) than in urban areas (15%).
In 2017, in collaboration with a community in Omega, Kavango East region, OYO undertook a mini-survey that led to the production with the community of the film ‘Kukuri’, released in 2018. This film was written based on the testimonies of girls who were forced to marry. All actors but one are from the Omega community and worked tireless hours to workshop the script and describe the plight of local girls who are forced into marriage. Scenes such as the wedding scene are exact replicate of how it happens in the community.
‘Kapana’ is the first Namibian queer film. Produced and directed by Philippe Talavera, it is first and foremost a love story.
In Namibia, sodomy is still a crime. For years gays and lesbians have been discriminated against. As a result, many gay men such as Simeon are living in the closet. They don’t enjoy their lives to the fullest, they don’t always have access to basic services, including health services, they don’t always find the support and acceptance they need. It is time our legislation changes. It is time we become, as a society, more tolerant.
Written by award-winner Senga Brockenhoff and Mikiros Garoes, the film stars Adriano Visagie (Best Actor Southern Africa, Sotigui Awards 2019) and Simon Hanga. with a supporting cast including Mikiros Garoes (winner Best newcomer Namibian Theatre and Film Award 2019), Dawie Engelbrecht (winner Best male Actor Namibian Theatre and Film Award 2014), veteran actresses Felicity Philander and Elize de Wee, Foreversun Haiduwah (‘the third will’), Albertina Hainane (‘the third will’) and newcomer
Chanwrill Vries. It has been selected at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles (March 2021), won runner up best international film at the Out on Film Festival in Atlanta (November 2020) and is touring many festivals worldwide.
Awards and recognition include:
Official selection at the Pan African Film Festival, Los Angeles, for ‘Kapana’ (2021)
Runner up best international film, Audience Awards, Out on Film LGBT festival, for Kapana (2020)
The award for Best Actor Southern Africa (Adriano Visagie) for ‘Salute!’ at the Sotigui Awards 2019, Burkina Faso
The nomination as Best Film: Southern Africa for ‘Salute!’ at the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) 2018, Nigeria and for ‘Kukuri at the AMVCA 2020
The award for Best actor (Dawie Engelbrecht, 'Now that I can talk about it’) and Best actress (Anna Louw, ‘ tinky boy’) at the 2014 Theatre and Film Awards of Namibia.
The Special Youth Prize at the Lola Screen Festival, 2011, Kenya, for OYO’s DVDs Make a move (2010), Sex and chocolate (2011), and Teddy bear love (2011);
The award for Second-Best Youth Film at the Lola Screen Festival 2010, Kenya, for OYO’s DVD We were young (produced in late 2009 and released early in 2010);
The 2009 AfriComNet Chairman’s Award to OYO’s founder and Director for “his outstanding contribution in HIV and AIDS prevention and impact mitigation through communication”.