One of the last standing black nursing pioneers no more

Staff Writer

Among the last nurses standing, if not the only last standing one among pioneering black Namibian nurses, is no more standing.

Francis Kandjambi Mbuere, bowed out last Wednesday on April 20 at the age of 87 years following a long sickness during which she was wheelchair bound following a car accident.

Typical to her dedication to the nursing profession as among the very first staff nurses in Apartheid Namibia, a rarity among blacks because of Apartheid laws, the accident which eventually committed her to a wheelchair happened while she was on one of her nursing missions.

Mbuere passed on barely three months after the departure of her dear longtime friend and fellow professional nurse, Agnes Kapenangumui Hindjou, this January.

Together with her they are among the first to take up professional nursing, inspired by the late Kapoi Hulda Shipanga, among the first qualified nurses, if not the very first, who went to study nursing in England in the early 1960s.

Upon her return her professional achievements rubbed off her friends, Mbuere and Hindjou, and others who eventually went to study nursing in South Africa.

Determined to further her education after schooling at the Augustineum Secondary School, then based in Okahandja, she tricked her parents in Epukiro who wanted to commit her to early marriage.

She returned to Windhoek from Epukiro to avoid the marriage, telling her parents she was coming to obtain her authority to remain in Windhoek, then referred to in Apartheid laws parlance as kopteks.

Any black person in the police zone, as the urban areas were known then, had to have municipal permission to be legal and avoid arrest and banishment to the rural area.

Instead, once in Windhoek Mbuere skipped the country to South Africa where she pursued nursing at the Baragwanath Hospital in Johannesburg, today’s Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. Thereafter she went on to Durban for two years to study midwifery.

Besides nursing Mbuere is roomed for her passionate tenor exploits, be it traditional-religious singing and hymning. Resultantly she became a member of the famous Cantare Audire, the first Namibian multicultural choir, founded by the late Ernst van Biljon in 1972.

The choir put Namibia on the international map in 1984 when it won the first prize for mixed choirs at the Llangollen Musical Eisteddfod in Wales. After they were invited to Austria, Egypt, France, Germany, South Africa and the United States of America. Van Biljon passed on in 2016.

A memorial service is scheduled for the late Mbuere on Wednesday, April 27 at the Yetuyama Centre, Namibia College of Open Learning (NAMCOL) in Katutura Windhoek from six O’clock, 18H00.

She will be laid to rest on Saturday, April 30 in the village of Die Oupad, not far away from her marital home village of Okoutjove in the Otjombinde Constituency in the Omaheke Region.

She is survived by husband, Titus, and three children, Monty Ndjavera, Jakwaterwa Mbuere and Bubsy Mbuere and grandchildren. And of course the greater extended African family, the Ngavee Ngnunondukua maternal lineage of Ndjavera, among others, and her paternally one.

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