Wednesday was a fun day of sort at the St. Barnabas Primary School in Katutura in the Katutura Central Constituency of Namibia’s Khomas Region.
As learners of the school mingled with 14 of their fellow learners from the friendly twinning Theodor-Heuss Gymnasium (THG) from Aachen, Germany, a spa city near Germany’s borders with Belgium and the Netherlands. It is for the fourth time that the learners are visiting St. Barnabas to continue a relationship dating back to 2012, and which has been going from strength to strength. This year’s visit by some THG’s teachers, management members, and Grade 11 and 12 learners, is a consolidation of this never-say-die relationship whereby THG to date has invested about N$65,000. Among them was Bodo Sonscheinn, now 70 and retired, who have been among the prime mover of the relationship, and who I seems want to see it flourishing all the way hence his accompanying the group to Namibia lately despite having retired.
Among others, part of the N$65,000 benefication from THG to St. Barnabas has been invested in the building of a soup kitchen for Vulnerable and Orphaned Children (OVCs) at the school that has since been completed and is operative feeding daily between 60 to 70 OVCs. On this visit the group brought along leaners, especially the OVCs, 80 school bags of stationaries. As well as two photocopiers.
The cooperation agreement also include teaching learners basketball and in this regard a basketball court has been built on the school premises and basketball necessities like balls have been donated to the school. An basketball teaching continued as part of the latest visit by THG. The basketball adventure is an outflow from 2012 when the group was then in Namibia and witnessed at the school the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) apple day when THG had the first contact with St. Barnabas. THG also has an academic exchange programme with the Windhoek Gymnasium and is during such an exchange that they also schedule one to two days with St. Barnabas. All these part of a cultural exchange programme during which the THG learners also stay with families of learners from Windhoek Gymnasium.
Some members of the THG’s entourage could not but be impressed with how much has developed at the school from the last time they were around, which is about two years back. Hoping to see the programme going forward because of its sustainability. With the basketball artists’ school in Namibia having joined the party to help learners at St. Barnabas with basketball. It is thus no coincidence that on Wednesday basketball led the jamboree with THG learners taking their St. Barnabas fellows to court taking them through the finer points of the game.
The development at the school which very much impressed the visiting THG entourage could not have come at a better time than 2023, when St. Barnabas is marking its centenary anniversary with various activities culminating in the main event in September or October. To put preparations in gear the school hosted parents last night to brief them about the anniversary and to engage them so that they are part of it all the way. Starting with the launch and profiling of the anniversary on a date still to be announced with special guests an alumnae to be addressed by various speakers.
THG in Aachen is only one many THG schools in Germany. The first Theodor-Heuss-Gymnasium was a Gymnasium in the city of Heilbronn. The roots of the school date from a Lateinschule (Latin school) of the 15th century. In 1620, the school was converted into a Gymnasium. From 1827 to 1938, it was named the Karlsgymnasium.
In 1880 the school moved into a new building that had been built in 1878 on the Karlstraße, where the current school is located. Since 1950, it has been named after its most famous pupil, Theodor Heuss, the first President of the Federal Republic of Germany. Today’s school building, built between 1956 and 1958, is a listed cultural monument.
St. Barnabas Primary School principal Hinuua Mbangura welcoming THG members. First right is the retired Bodo Sonnschein.