Downtrodden and out of job with four children to support, Mary Shikukutu didn’t find much support among family and friends when she proposed the idea of starting an urban milling business for a traditional African grain.
“‘Are you crazy?’ was all I heard. `Who’ll support your business? You need to think of something else because there’s no market for that in the city.’ Yes, sometimes it’s good to listen to other people’s opinion, but if you give too much weight to what others think, you’ll never know what you are capable of or discover what life has in store for you. So despite all the no, no, no’s, I went ahead anyway.”
The fourth of six children, Shikukutu was born in Ondobe village in the Ohangwena region in the northern part of Namibia. According to Oshiwambo custom, which dictates children be split up and raised by family members when one or both parents dies, a five-year-old Shikukutu was sent to live with her aunty in the nation’s capital following her father’s death. Her oldest brother joined SWAPO, Namibia’s former national liberation movement, in exile where it was fighting for independence from South Africa in the 70s. (more…)