Namibian students lightening up Zim’s night life
Bulawayo – The 1999 film American Pie was so successful that it has created a generation of followers and two sequels. It highlighted the tradition of booze, sex, and gross behavior. Of course, that is exactly what the primary audience is looking for, and in the same vein, that is the sort of life that college students live especially when far away from home. Teenage boys loved American Pie. Who among them would not fantasise about participating in a brassiere-removing contest? They were also enthralled with co-ed dorms in which girls take showers in communal bathrooms. They were thrilled to note that the college was highly selective in attracting only model-quality female students, all of whom are over-sexed and willing to shed their tops. Most students in their late teens and early 20s relive American Pie and the ever-increasing Namibian community of students in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, is no exception. There are close to 1000 students from Namibia in Bulawayo with most of them enrolled in private colleges where they pursue academic and technical courses. While a sizeable number is kept under lock and key at the Zimbabwe College of Professional Studies which has boarding facilities, making it a hassle to frequent drinking spots, those who live in flats and cottages in suburbs in and around the city centre really know how to paint the town red. The students do courses like hotel and catering, travel and tourism, human resource management, secretarial administration, electrical engineering, motor vehicle engineering, information technology, hair dressing, beauty therapy, accounting and cutting and designing as well as academic classes. Zim College has a population of 300 foreign students, mostly from Namibia and they live under strict boarding facilities that enable them to focus on their studies, but for some, after classes, its time to party. “Most foreign students are resident at the college so it is easy for us to monitor their movements. When they are in the country, we have to make sure that they are safe and do what they are here for, which his to study,” said a lecturer from the college, who added that they were however some bad apples, like in all institutions. The Namibian students have replaced the huge population of Botswana youths who used to attend colleges in Bulawayo at the turn of the new millennium and scores of South African refugees in the mid-90s. They move in groups, attending parties and going to nightclubs. Unfortunately some young ladies have fallen prey to male night clubbers who offer to drive them around and buy them drinks. Infact, others have made long trips outside the city to places like Kwekwe and Harare (440km away) to watch Premier League football matches, accompanied by male friends with links to football clubs. A number of nightclubs have taken advantage of the large number of Namibian students in town by hosting ‘Namibia nights’ on Fridays where Namibian music is played and Namibian nationals, especially women, are given free drinks upon entry, which is also for free. “Men want to come where there are women that is why we have organised the Namibian night and Miss Namibia so that we attract the college students from Namibia. Men know that the girls do not have the money to spend but they want to go out clubbing so they come and buy them drinks and take them home after the show, and really, we don’t care where they take them after the show,” said a nightclub manager. In the city, most of them frequent Highlanders Sports Club where they start drinking beer from around 4pm on Friday and weekends and attract a large number of would be male suitors. But they usually spoil the night by engaging in fistfights among themselves and the club management has resolved not to report them to the police anymore but mete out instant justice. “This is like a home to Namibian students here in Bulawayo. They are free here and we also play their music but they spoil things by fighting among themselves. Some boys like beating up girls after they have been turned down or when their relationship has gone sour and some even fight on tribal lines, but we are now used to living with them. They are family now,” said Highlanders Football Club vice chairman, Sikhanyiso Moyo. However, the students denied that they were up to no good, maintaining that they were in the country in search of a better education. “My parents are paying a lot of money for fees and my upkeep in Zimbabwe so I can not mess around. We just go out to relax with friends but that is not misbehaving. You can not paint all of us with the same brush because some of us don’t even drink beer,” said a student who hails from Windhoek and identified herself as Clara, who attends Speciss College.