By Kleopas Nghikefelwa /

This year Onandjokwe Medical Museum is celebrating its 11th year anniversary.

The museum was officially opened in 2013 by H.E. Ambassador Anne Saloranta and Dr. Richard Kamwi, Namibia’s minister of health and social services at the time. It was the first museum of medical history in the land of the brave.

This museum was established with financial assistance from the Embassy of Finland in Namibia and the technical support from the Museum Association of Namibia, under the leadership of late Dr. Jeremy Silvester.

The museum building, which is the first building at Onandjokwe Hospital built in 1911, was in 2012 renovated and turned into a museum by making use of technical skills of a Finnish Missionary, Mr. Jarmo Lehtinen, from Finland.

Rev. Julius Mutuleni, a retired manager of Onandjokwe Lutheran missions, was its founding father and member. He was the manager and driver of a vehicle that travelled around (Namibia and Finland) collecting information, old objects, photographs and documents which are preserved in the Museum today.

About the ownership, the Museum is a private property of the Evangelical Lutheran Church OF Namibia (ELCIN) which placed it under the management of Oniipa Town Council from 2015.

Like many other businesses all over the world, starting during Covid-19 period of 2019 and 2021, the Museum suffered a heavy blow and its doors had been closed down to the public.

Then I made a selfless decision to dedicate myself to save the life of this unique Museum, where I served as an intern-volunteer from 1 March 2022 until 30 March 2023. During this time I had enough opportunity to research and find out what exactly needed to be done in order to save this Museum from dying.

My first goal was to transform it from being a warehouse or storeroom for storing old objects into a living place where people meet for some live events or celebrations.

My target was cultural tourists, family members, friends and researchers who wanted to learn and share the memories of Onandjokwe medical history.

As a result in 2022 I started reaching out to people and proposing for cultural events which can attract local people to visit the Museum. For example, I remember one day when one young nurse (who was born in Oniipa), stepped in the Museum, and she was delighted to see a photo of her late mother, who was trained in Onandjokwe Nursing School in the 1960s.

The Museum also started attracting many Finnish tourists or family members of some missionaries who lived in Oniipa some 50 years back (like the Vaananen, Kalliokosky, Ericksson and others).

In this way, Onandjokwe Medical Museum is successfully connecting the present generations with past generations. At the same time it helps families and people to discover their own roots, heritages and identities.

Above all, this Museum has not just been serving as a cultural heritage attraction in Oniipa town, but it had mostly been serving as a learning place, where new medical and nurse student groups meet with prominent retired Namibian medical professional, Prof. Dr. Filemon Amaambo, to share new and old medical knowledge.

But I feel sorry that for the past 10 years this Museum did not receive enough funding from its stakeholders, to cover its annual operational costs. When I was appointed by Oniipa Town Council to serve as the Museum Curator/Administrator of Onandjokwe Medical Museum, from 14 December 2023 I discovered that there is a high need to organise more fundraising activities to generate extra funding.

Therefore on 22 March 2024 Onandjokwe Medical Museum will host three historical and memorable events in one day, from 8h30: The commemoration of Dr. Selma Rainio’s birthday; the celebration of the 11th anniversary of Onandjokwe Medical Museum and the launch of the documentary film “Onandjokwe Pioneers of Medical Mission Services – 1950 and 1980s”.

These events expect to attract individual members from Oniipa community, Ondangwa and as far as Eenhana or Engela areas where many Onandjokwe trained retired nurses are residing.

The main aim of these events are not just to raise funding, but also to reunite the people and help them to experience the important role of this Museum in the society.

Above all, like all other community museums, Onandjokwe Medical Museum is not a business or supermarket that should be expected to generate quick cash or profits. But it is a non-profitable organisation, which should be treated and managed sustainably by a legal advisory board, like schools and churches.

All non-profitable organisations are naturally depending on donations and support from the government, communities, donors and members.

Therefore during the celebration of the 11th year of Onandjokwe Medical Museum, I would like to invite all friends, individual members of the public and Oniipa community, who want to support our Museum to contact Oniipa Town Council or Onandjokwe Medical Museum.

This year’s events and celebrations received some sponsorship from Dr. Petrus Mhata, Dr. Selma Rainio Medical Centre, Dr. Sydney Mukondomy, Dr. Akutu Apollos Munyika Private Practices, and others.

All donations and sponsorship given with caring and loving hearts are always welcome and this helps to keep the heart of Onandjokwe Medical Museum pumping for the benefit of this generation and generations to come.

In the photo: Dr. Selma Gwanandjokwe Rainio, and her hospital building.