It has been difficult for me to be as excited today as I have been in the past for independence day. Being Namibian however I am also hopeful and know that as history has taught that we will persevere, it is in our nature. They do not call us the brave for no reason.
However to address the things that make me uncomfortable about today. I grew up like most Namibians being dragged to Independence day celebrations at the local stadium, watching the performances, feeling patriotic and confident in the promises that we would be the generation united to build Namibia. We would make it to be the dreams of our forefathers on the battlefields, a place where all men are equal and one where the right amount of hard work (not corruption) and the right type of work ethic would be able to make you the person you hope to be. My father told stories of how we would be able to be anything and how all Namibians will be able to have the basics, stories with happy endings. He’d always believed in the power of education and Mother always reinforced that.
I woke up to the realization that this is not the Namibia we are living in today and it made me miserable, it makes me sad and angry that the status quo is so far off. The economic trends among our populations haven’t changed much since 1994. People in Tutaleni and Kilimanjaro and areas of Omusati and Zambezi are still living in abject poverty, that even if we sing Mr Kaujeua’s “Shilongo shetu”. The people it was initially written about would feel as I do when they look at the progress we have made. They would be as hurt looking at the women sleeping in tents outside the maternity ward in Outapi, the youth drinking their future away in places of entertainment on weekends and the culture of as long ‘as I am doing fine/ better’ that the Namibian middle-class has adopted.
I am emotional because we are not doing enough as individuals to bring about change, we are calm and complacent. Our stoicism does not benefit anybody. This is the Namibia our children are to inherit, we must realize that things are now past the point of ‘I am Wambo and you are coloured or Damara or Herero’, St Paul’s and you went to Augustineum. This is the Namibia our children will inherit. If somebody must build it, it must be our generation. Those ideas that you have. We must create new opportunities and those in power must strive along with us for access creation and creation of new opportunities, new ways to make Namibians employable and create manufacturing industry to employ them.
Job asked earlier what we will tell our children when they ask where we were when things began to deteriorate. I am writing this as a call to action. Let us make sure we can tell them the truth, our truth, that we did our best that we did not let selfish motives, prejudice and fear hinder the progress of our nation. And more importantly that we not only sung verses like ‘Ti Mama’ and ‘Namibia land of the brave’ but that we acted brave and when the winds of change were blowing against poverty and inequality we blew with them and we were the grains eroding away social evils such as poverty and inequality.
To understand that when that when our forefathers sung “Ondamona ovakwaita tavalu shaashi edu eli olavo” they were not only singing about their struggles on the battlefield but also those that we as a generation would have to endure, that this would be our battle song in the time of constructing the Namibia that they dreamed of. That we too must fight and losing is not an option, because this land too is ours.
– Ruth the Namibian