Cultural festival part of prisoner rehabilitation

Tsumeb-As part of the rehabilitation process for incarcerated persons, the Evaristus Shikongo Correctional Services on Friday held the first-ever cultural festival for offenders held at the facility in an effort to remedy the anti-social acts that brought them into conflict with the law.

The festival presented a platform for prisoners to engage and interact with one another, as they are mostly confined and isolated.

According to the assistant commissioner Diana Chipango, it is critical for the Namibian Correctional Services to ensure that offenders are re-integrated into society as productive individuals with a better social intelligence.

It is [a source] of great pride for us as a department to be the vessel of change in these adorable, outstanding individuals that we serve. Yes, they may have wronged society and are sent here to serve time. But we strongly believe in them and make it our goal to try by all means to ensure that they learn and adapt new social skills that will help them adjust to the current societal pressures, stressed Chipango to cheers from a unit centre where prisoners gathered.

The facility is situated about 25 kilometres outside Tsumeb has over 400 inmates, with some units still an occupied.

Gone are the days when we were prisons with a primary focus of locking up offenders. Moreover, these modern correctional services has drastically shifted its focus to a more dynamic oriented process, through which offenders are managed in a systematic manner in addressing their needs, reiterated Chipango.

Chipango said their attention has moved to finetuning and ensuring the criminogenic factors that attributed to the criminal lifestyle of offenders is adequately addressed.

Tsumeb Mayor Veueza Kasiringua, who also graced the occasion, stressed that culture guides the conduct of people in their relations with others. Thus it helps promote interpersonal relationships through acknowledging and realising that there are diverse cultural backgrounds, norms and values that are interrelated.

Through culture we are governed by norms and customs which are the pillars of any society. However, if these norms and customs are not followed, our cultures will be similar to a perfume with no smell.

Therefore, the main objectives of this cultural day are to raise consciousness in understanding awareness and tolerance of inter-cultural differences and share various cultural experiences, said Commissioner Armas Veiko.

Traditional dancers performed and a choir sang at the event, with the best performing groups and artisans receiving prizes, such as a whole sheep carcass to braai.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia