UNAM Archives

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Authority record

Henderson, Mrs. Thelma

  • PA 5
  • Person

Thelma Henderson started working on Namibian language and education in 1977 and continued to be involved in Namibian projects in Zambia, Namibia and the UK for the next 25 years.
Before independence, there was a great deal of activity in Lusaka directed towards improving the level of education of Namibian refugees and also to planning future education policy. Thelma contributed to both these activities.
In order to help to improve knowledge and use of English, Thelma acted as an adviser on materials development (i) at workshops for students entering courses at the United Nations Institute for Namibia in 1977, 1978 and 1987 funded by the British Council; (ii) at the Commonwealth Conference Workshop, Lusaka, in 1981, for the production of the Namibian English Language Course intended for distribution to the Namibian settlements in Angola and Zambia; (iii) at the Namibian Extension Unit, Lusaka, in 1982, 1987 (twice) and 1988 for the production of the Junior Secondary English Course also intended for distribution to the settlements in Angola and Zambia, and again funded by the British Council. Many of these materials were written in the context of the situation at that time.
In order to plan language and education policy after independence, a number of international conferences were organised at UNIN. Funded by ODA (now DFID), Thelma was invited to present papers and contribute to the discussions of new language education policy and strategies. This included contributions to the conferences on English Strategies for Namibia (1980) and Language Policies for Namibia (1983); and, just before independence, the final conference on the future of education in Namibia to which, for the first time, specialists and officials from the previous administration of Namibia were invited.
After independence, there was a heightened sense of urgency concerning the strategies for the reform of the education system and their implementation. A great many consultancy reports were written about the existing education system and the changes that would be needed to bring it into line with the new government’s mission. Thelma was invited to write several of these reports for the Ministry of Education: Introducing English within the Formal System of Education (1990); Introducing English within the Adult and Non-Formal Sector of Education (1991); English at Tertiary Level (1994); English Language Teacher Education in Namibia: Current State and Future Needs (1994). In order to write these reports, it was important to take account of the emerging new education system and the ways in which a new second language might fit within it. The documents reflect the wider context of education reform
Parallel to these activities in Africa, Thelma was also Joint Director of what is now called the Centre for Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick. Warwick was always very proud of its Namibian connections and of the fact that Namibians were trained there in subjects such as law, economics and education.
Due to work on the language and education policy, a number of groups of Namibians students were received at Warwick who attended teacher education and postgraduate courses; and established a link with the new Language Centre at the University of Namibia.
The groups of education students started coming to Warwick before independence, the first being a group from UNIN who took part in a split B. Ed programme which had been specially designed for them. It was followed, after independence by other groups who came to study for the Diploma in English Language Teaching and, later, for the MA in English Language Teaching. A number of teachers, lecturers and education officers, in Namibia now, will remember their experience in the UK.
When the Language Centre was set up at UNAM, a link was established with Warwick. It involved the provision of advice and support for the Director and the staff. Staff from UNAM visited Warwick and vice versa over a period of time. It was hoped that those initial contacts would prove useful in setting up and sustaining the work of the UNAM Centre.
When Thelma finally retired in 2001, she still had a large collection of documents about Namibia which had been assembled over the previous 25 years. She always felt they belonged in Namibia as a basis for research for younger generations. These are the set of documents which make this collection.

Tjitendero, DR Mose Penaani

  • Person
  • 1943-2006

Dr Mose Penaani Tjitendero was born in Okahandja, Namibia in 1943. He left the country on voluntary exile in 1964 for Tanzania to the SWAPO office there. He became involved in radio broadcasts from Dar es Salaam to Namibia. He was also active in youth politics, rising to a leadership role on the youth executive. He enrolled at the Kurisini International School in Dar es Salaam, a high school created by the refugee students themselves. After high school, he was awarded a scholarship for undergraduate studies at Lincoln University in the United States, where he read history and political sciences. He followed this with a Masters in History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a doctorate in education from the same University. The young and well educated Tjitendero returned to Lusaka, Zambia in 1976 to share his knowledge, as a Senior Lecturer at the new UN educational institute for Namibians, and later as Head of Teacher Training and Assistant Director of UNIN. Just prior to Namibia's independence, he moved to Luanda, Angola as Director of the UN Vocational and Training Center in 1988-89.
At Namibia's independence in 1990, he became the first speaker of the National Assembly. He contributed to the drafting of the constitution of the Republic of Namibia. He was active in SADC, and he became the vision, inspiration and driving force for the establishment of the SADC Parliamentary Forum.
He died in Windhoek on 26 April 2006 and is buried at the National Heroes Acre.

du Pisani, Prof. A.

  • Person
  • 1949 -

André du Pisani was born on 15 January 1949 in Windhoek, Namibia. He earned his bachelor's degree from Stellenbosch University in South Africa in 1971 and honours’ in politics from Stellenbosch in 1972. He later earned a Master's degree in politics from Stellenbosch in 1975. From 1975-76, André was a research student at the London School of Economics. In 1988, he earned his Ph.D. in politics from the University of Cape Town. From 1995-96, he did post-doctoral research through the Global Security Fellows Initiative at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. During the course of his career, Prof. du Pisani has undertaken extensive research, and published prolifically, on Namibia’s political history. He has a renowned interest in Namibia’s political history, particularly Namibia’s political transition. It is these interests which are reflected in this collection, part of which has been donated to UNAM.
He is now a consultant to SADC, and also Professor of Politics at the Department of Political and Administrative Studies at the University of Namibia.

Katjavivi, P.H. Prof.

  • Person
  • 1941 -

Professor Peter Katjavivi was born on 12 May 1941 in Okahandja, Namibia. He travelled into exile in 1966 and was part of the Dar es Salaam exiles that helped transform SWAPO into an international force in the struggle for the liberation of Namibia. Until 1979 he was a fulltime SWAPO activist running the London office and holding the movement’s Information and Publicity post. From the 1980s, he pursued his academic career which saw him gaining a Masters degree in 1980 from the University of Warwick, UK and a Doctor of Philosophy in1986 from St Anthony’s College, University of Oxford. In 1989, he was elected to the Constituent Assembly and served as National Assembly member until 1991. In 1992 he was named the first Vice-Chancellor of the University of Namibia, a post he held for eleven years. He was appointed as Professor in History by the UNAM Academic Council Staff Appointments Committee in 1994. He was given a diplomatic posting in 2003. Peter Katjavivi has also been very active as SWAPO’s documenter of the liberation struggle. His book, ‘A History of Resistance in Namibia’ (James Currey, 1988) is still widely referred to in academic works on recent Namibian history. Currently, he is the Director-General of the National Planning Commission.


The UNIN was an educational body set up by the United Nations Council for Namibia in Lusaka, Zambia on 26 August 1976. It was the brainchild of the then United Nations Commissioner for Namibia, Sean MacBride. The main purpose of the creation of UNIN was to have a facility for the education of Namibians in preparation for taking up roles in an independent Namibia. Namibia at that time was still being illegally ruled by Apartheid South Africa, which treated Namibia as its fifth province. Namibia did not have its own tertiary education system but was using the apartheid Bantu Education system, which, by design was inferior and meant specifically for blacks in South Africa and Namibia. Thus, in 1974, the United Nations Council for Namibia under Sean MacBride suggested a tertiary education institution for Namibia in Zambia. This saw its inauguration as UNIN on 26 August 1976 by the then President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda. Funding for the UNIN was initially provided for by the United Nations Fund for Namibia, for a short period. However, UNIN also received financial support from individual government donations and private organizations such as the Ford Foundation. The UNIN was closed in September 1990 (six months after Namibia’s independence) and its documents were transferred to the University of Namibia Library, Archives Unit.

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