Oniipa - Namibian medical history


Oniipa - Namibian medical history

05 November 2020 | Tourism

Oniipa became the third town of the Oshikoto Region when it was merged with Onethindi in 2014. The town is essentially regarded as national curator of all missionary history in the Ovamboland area, with specific reference to Finnish strongholds in Namibia. Oniipa houses one of the oldest hospitals in the country – the Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital –, which is more than 100 years old. Today, the hospital also houses a museum, which showcases medical equipment of yesteryear. The Onandjokwe Medical Museum is the first of its kind in Namibia and also has a unique garden, in which special medical herbs are cultivated. The museum was inaugurated on 22 March 2013, while the garden was opened in 2015.

A collection of real medical equipment and pictures dating back to as far as 1908 are displayed in the museum. Medical personnel and -students as well as enthusiasts of nursing and medicinal history, will among others benefit from the knowledge and information about the evolution of medical technology spanning many years, which is imparted by the growing collection of the museum.

The garden was established as a symbolic celebration of a partnership between local traditional healers and Dr Selma Rainio, the founder of Onandjokwe Hospital. Dr Rainio was one of the first women in Finland to qualify as a medical doctor. She travelled to Namibia in order to establish the Onandjokwe Hospital in 1911. A local traditional healer, Helena Shifeleni, donated 44 different plants to this garden, which she gathered from around northern Namibia as well as Angola. Medical researchers are busy studying local medicines grown at this medical garden.

Both, the museum and the garden, are supported by the Embassy of Finland through the Museum Association of Namibia (MAN). The name Oniipa also became popular in the colonial era as it was named after the popular printing Press, Oniipa Eloc Printing Press owned by the Lutheran church in Namibia (ELCIN). The press was however destroyed by the colonial administration in 1980, because it used to publish the local newspaper “Omukwetu”, which was regarded as a threat to the government of the time.

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