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Celebrating a decade of OYO

OYO’s dancer Jessica Augustus performing ‘the dark Medea’

OYO’s dancer Jessica Augustus performing ‘the dark Medea’

The Ombetja Yehinga Organisation, better known by its acronym OYO, recently celebrated its 10th birthday. Created in 2001 by Dr Philippe Talavera, it became an NGO in 2003. OYO strives to create social awareness among young people using the arts as vehicle.
To celebrate its 10th birthday, OYO put up a retrospective of its work on the parking lot of the theatre school where over 200 guests attended the event.
“In 2001, when I started OYO as a project in the Kunene region, I had no idea it would, in 2003, become an NGO.

I started OYO on my own, voluntarily, with support from the Kunene Regional Council. It was just meant as a small project to help schools in Kunene North to integrate HIV education in their curriculum. The project was successful. In 2003, when we registered as an NGO, I had no idea that 10 years later I would stand here, among you, to celebrate a decade of OYO. A decade of fantastic projects with amazing young people”, Dr Talavera said.
The celebrations were a recollection of OYO’s work, with testimonies from young people who had taken part in those projects. Video of Ruusa Ntinda (2003, ‘Maturwisa’ project), Valerie Tjirimuje (2003, ‘Isolation’ and 2004 ‘Eros and Thanatos’), Loide Imasa (2008, ‘A crack in the wall’) and Elizabeth Katjiveri (2007, Outjo youth group) allowed the audiences to learn from their experience. Julien Geirises and Johannes Magongo (2008, ‘the Namibian Odysseus’) and Bergo van Wyk and Barnabas Ochurub (2008, ‘a crack in the wall’) paid tribute to the OYO dance troupe and OYO’s film productions. Early works of OYO involved the use of fashion and movement to create awareness. Extracts from ‘Eros and Thanatos’ (2004), ‘Rubber Soul’ (2006) and ‘The Namibian Odysseus’ (2008) were presented, thanks to the support from fashion designers Maria Caley and Chakirra Claasen. The OYO dance troupe presented ‘the Dark Medea’ (2013) and a tribute to the OYO magazine (started in 2002) while the Rundu and Grootfontein youth groups closed the event with songs from youth groups repertoire (2007 to 2013).
‘While last night was amazing and fun, I must say that watching the Dark Medea was excruciating. I found it so moving and so painfully beautiful. Young people need to see this! Thank you for last night but also thank you for all the lives OYO has changed in the last 10 years. Incredible’ said one of the audience.
OYO has conducted over 10 years a million interventions. It has touched the lives of many Namibians. It used its tenth anniversary as an opportunity to rebrand itself, and the new OYO logo was unveiled by OYO trustees Sandy Rudd and Kathleen Newton. ‘the evening was a great success’, said Dr Talavera, ‘and a chance to celebrate all the people who have shaped OYO to become what it is now. Former staff Evelina Ashipala, Rikondjerua Mutambo and Alfa Sililo who have worked tirelessly in the early years of OYO, were present at the event. Current staff Joshua Homateni, Cecilia Petrus, Ivan Mueze, Nyandee Mbarandongo, all the dancers and all the supporting staff were called on stage in the end, to remind us that OYO is not a one man show, but a team effort. We are proud to work together and to know we are making a difference in people’s lives.”

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