Linda Baumann : The Woman. The Force. The Activist
Linda Baumann is a sheer force of a woman. An unwavering activist for the rights of women, the LGBTQI community and for marginalised people in general, she has fought to emancipate and get equal opportunities for these groups.
A sister, mother and aunt, Linda has grown up with a mind of her own and a rebellious streak that set her onto the path of activism.
Growing up in Wambo location, Katutura, she went to school at Mandume Primary School and Namutoni Primary School, and later attended high school at Jan Jonker Afrikaner Secondary School. A creative and active youth at the time, she’d often find herself bored after school and spent her afternoons at the Katutura Multipurpose Youth Centre. It was during her afternoons at the centre that she learned about Red Cross and at 14, she started volunteering at the organisation.
“I still remember the principles of the Red Cross. I made my own acronym out of it which stands for humanity and partiality, neutrality, universality, unity, and voluntarism, all those principles are the principles that I still live by and that guides me in my life,” says Linda. She adds that her mother was very instrumental in instilling a humanitarian spirit in her.
Linda then worked at the Namibia Planned Parenthood Association (NAPPA) where she did advocacy work for sexual and reproductive health and rights for young people in particular. This is where she met John Nakuta (now Namibia’s media ombudsman) and Yvonne Dausab (Chairperson of the Law Reform Development Commission (LRDC) who became her mentors and introduced her to law.
As a youth, Linda was also one of the early members of the Namibian Girl Child Association, which became the first feminists movement for young black children.
Growing up surrounded by boys, Linda realised early on that she was not ordinary. She realised that she may be gay but because it was seen as a taboo, she struggled to accept it and even experienced internalised homophobia. She eventually found her identity in the LGBTQI movement and this is where she became an activist.
“Finding my identity there was the key thing for me to be able to understand what humanity is and how indivisible our human rights are, and so I started finding out about gay people but I used to always sit at the back,” she recalls. She started fighting for the equal rights of the LGBTQI community and continued her humanitarian efforts “ because there’s no way that I can divide the layers of who I am into packaging, she says on why she doesn’t limit her activism to the LGBTQI community.
Her work has earned her recognition in Namibia and beyond, and she has received numerous accolades as well, with the latest being a Feather Award. She has been to the UN to represent Namibia and has done all of this without a university degree – something she says she could do because of her endless pursuit of knowledge.