Only the Covid-19 regulations, with a ceiling lately and currently of no more than 200 people at any public gathering, be it a meeting, funeral and/or sports activity, barred the community of mourners from giving late 84-year-old Agnes Kapenangumui “Kapee” Hindjou, a befitting community heroin’s farewell.
That is only if a heroin’s sendoff is and can be defined in terms of the number of mourners. But by the content of those paying tribute to her at three different events, first a memorial service at the Namibia College of Open Learning (Namcol)’s Jetu Jama Centre in Windhoek’s Independence Avenue in Central Katutura last Thursday, followed by a more traditional vigil and memorial service at her farm Agarichas 401 in the Gobabis district last Friday, and eventually the funeral itself on Saturday at the Pioneerspark Cemetry which was conducted by Father Jacobs, there was no mistaking and denial that that indeed the late “Kapee” as she was affectionately known by and to all and sundry, was receiving a befitting heroin’s farewell from her eclectic community.
“Kapee” was among the second cohort of qualified nurses in Namibia, then South West Africa, with late Kandjambi Ndjavera-Mbuere, second only to the first within her community, the first cohort if not alone among them was Kapoi Shipanga, also late. Among this corps of professional nurses are the likes of Choppy Kazenango. A generation of which “Kapee” may have been the last one standing. A generation that can be lauded for braving and resisting Apartheid restrictions, persevering in its quest for education under difficult Apartheid conditions when education for blacks was a remote dream if not a risk in itself. “In the schools they are intensifying the application of ‘Bantu Education’. In order to make the native population accept the position of inferiority permanently, the Government has decided to provide them with a system of education which will, as they say, ‘prepare them for their station and function in life’,” as Hans Beukes testified in his address to the Annual Conference of the Danish Association in 1960.
To further pursue their education, many indigenous Southwesters dared into Apartheid South Africa, which for that matter was no mean feat as even the indigenes were not allowed to go and study abroad, if South Africa could also then have been seen and/or considered as abroad. “The previous education system, the same as for whites was not suitable in preparing the natives for their task in life. For the same reason they are refusing permission to students to study abroad, because as they say the previous educational system, the same as for whites was not suitable in preparing the natives for their task in life, and studying abroad places ideas in their heads about ‘a way of life South Africa is not prepared to give them’”, Beukes further testified in his address.
But given the groundswell consciousness among the indigenes about education then, partially politically inspired and fueled and spirited by then British Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan’s Wind of Change speech to the Apartheid South African Parliament on 3 February, 1960. After there was not stopping the exodus into South Africa by Kapee and others. This landed them in the South African town of Graaff Reinet, which can today easily been seen as the cradle of nursing among black Southwesters.
Kapee’s love and quest for education certainly has rubbed off those around her, particularly his children, most of whom have attained by South West Africa’s standards among black higher education with most having attended tertiary education and/or professions with higher education entry requirement.
She has been described variously and separately by all those who knew her whether closely or distantly, commonly as gentle giant. Whether in her immediate domestic settings as a wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, niece and foster mother and caregiver to many in the context of African extended family, or professionally as a nurse, or even socially as a friend to many. Because as an affable person with an infectious smile she could not but endear herself to many, if not all.
Professionally as a nurse, those close to her could not but aptly characterise her as Namibia’s quintessential Florence Nightingale. Was it her inner beautiful self that has rubbed onto her professional self or vice versa? Whichever, the two has perfectly blended harmoniously to produce a community heroin that “Kapee” came to be, in private and domestically, professionally publicly and socially.
There could not have been a better and apt tribute other than from a first born daughter to a dear mother, Kahoo Kandjoze, who compiled an A-Z character balance sheet and synopsis of her mother. Starting from Admirable to Zealous. In between are many accolades if not admirations like caring, determined, egalitarian, generous, loving, optimistic, tenacious, ubiquitous, and valiant.