Art school seeks to paint a brighter future for Namibian youth


WINDHOEK – In a corrugated iron structure in Havana’s informal settlement on the outskirts of Namibia’s capital Windhoek, children draw pictures of idyllic scenes from society that reflect their aspirations.

“It’s a poster of a lady. I used an old magazine, a discarded box, which I glued to paper, then colored. I like to draw beautiful ladies, imagine a world where society protects women,” 13-year-old Lavinia Tobias says as she interprets her drawing.

Tobias is one of 40 young people housed at the Frans Nambinga Arts Training School, one of Windhoek’s most populated informal settlements. The school, which started in 2018, teaches artistic techniques amid the challenges of informal settlements.

“We offer performing arts and visual arts classes to members of the community. Not only to nurture talent, but to prevent children from being pushed into sneaky activities on the streets,” says Frans Nambinga, artist and founder of the school.

He lends his industry experience and qualifications from the College of Arts and the John Muafangejo Art Center in Namibia to pass on his skills.

The school merges arts education with culture in the form of history, dance and food to pass traditions down through the generations, says Letisia Hamukoto, a trainer at the school. The school has since helped nurture the dreams of young people, many of whom wish to make art their mainstay.

Tobias, who started the program at age 6, says it became his escape.

“I feel safer here than on the streets. Art allows me to dream and share my artistic passion with friends and neighbors. I hope to go far with him, even in China or America, to put value my craft and learn from others.” said Tobias.

Young people also learn social skills there.

“Being here teaches me to mix and work as a team with others,” says 12-year-old Leticia Ndamekele, who has been with the program since 2019.

In addition, extramural activities in art school have an effect on improving academic performance in regular schools, especially in arts subjects.

“We’ve received feedback that school children develop a different way of thinking and show more confidence in presentation,” Nambinga said.

In addition, it creates employment and study opportunities for young people.

“Young people maximize the skills learned to earn a living through music or visual arts. We also provide those who wish to further their education with a certificate and portfolio that would qualify them for admission into art schools,” adds he.

In the meantime, the art center has seen an increased demand for arts education in the region, but faces some challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, insufficient space, resources and funds. to develop. The school is the main source of income.

“It’s my lifeline. However, the programs don’t always generate substantial income because most locals and parents can’t afford the 100 Namibian dollars ($6.72). I don’t I don’t hunt. I teach them anyway,” says Nambinga.

Some support comes from collaborating with institutions on joint projects. Some institutions partner with the school to bring an idea to life through an exhibition or performing arts to raise awareness of a social issue, he says.

“Hosting institutions fund such projects, which generate income. But we need more support,” he says, adding that he hopes to expand the school and take in more children.

“It is not easy to be an artist in Namibia due to limited support and business prospects. But I am optimistic about the future. We hope to grow through continued strategic collaboration to nurture young people, to they succeed,” he said.

The art school has trained a hundred young people since its creation.

Nambinga visited China in 2013, when he participated in a six-month program under the China-Africa Cooperation Forum in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. “In China, I learned a lot about the creative art industry, especially after visiting museums, galleries, factories and watching how they run art programs for children,” he adds. -he.

Kayleen C. Rice