The Namibian house has an eleventh commandment: No one should feel left out. In the cold of winter, no one should feel like they are not part of the fire. In the heat of summer, no one should feel like they cannot get out of the kitchen. In our land of the brave, feelings matter and we do not want to make anyone feel like they do not belong in this house. After all, it is the essence of our new policy of inclusivity. This coming Tuesday President Hage Geingob will unveil his strategy against the scourge of feeling left out. This is the much talked about Harambee Plan for Prosperity. Do not ask me because I also do not know what Harambee means. However, a quick look on the internet tells me that it is a Swahili word that means “let’s pull together”. And here I was thinking that it meant “no more tender talks”. Viva Pan-Africanism. I still think that calling it the ‘Omake Plan’ would have been more appropriate. At least we would all have been clapping hands, commoners and overlords alike. But I fear that the word ‘Omake’ has been irredeemably tainted by the excitement of a senior struggle stalwart, so we cannot use it for this policy. That is why we had to fly across the African continent to borrow from the best what Africa has to offer. Jomo Kenyatta would have been proud. Who ever thought his policy would be recycled by the land of the brave decades later?
What is in a name? You have exciting names like Olufuko, boring names like NEEEF(how many E’s does that acronym have anyways?). A name should evoke a feeling of joy, despair or strong connection. You cannot say the name ‘Kandeshi’ without thinking of the word ‘dirty’. You cannot say the word ‘Omake’ without having ‘aafyoona’ come into your mind. What does the Harambee evoke in Namibians? Ask ten Namibians to tell you what Harambee means and they wouldn’t know. The other two would be advisers. I, for one am waiting to hear the details of the plan. I cannot help but feel a sense of regret that we did not choose a Namibian name for our signature policy. After all, the Kenyans have already done Harambee to death. And a lot of good it did them. In 2007, the Kenyans forgot to pull together and started a spiral of violence that pitted brother against brother. The violence killed hundreds and displaced many. Even up to now, ethnic tensions still simmer. We are a more tolerant people, and that’s why I feel that we should have chosen a name from our country. The Tanzanians had Ujamaa, at least until Magufuli came with his Mafugulification. Ujamaa (‘family hood’ in Swahili) was the concept that formed the basis of Julius Nyerere’s social and economic development policies in Tanzania after it gained independence from Britain in 1961.
Magufulication is a tag African people are using to describe the new “Bulldozer” president of Tanzania. The Zambians had Humanism, a socialist ideology that was developed by Zambia’s founding President Kenneth Kaunda. Scholars argued that the ideology was composed of a combination of many elements which did not always fit together into an organic whole. In a sense the ideology was meant to be the social cement that held together and inspired the nation but it failed in economic terms. As a country, Zambia experienced several economic difficulties beginning from the mid-1970s which humanism failed to adequately address. By the mid-1980s the country was worse off economically than it had been at the time of independence. And now we have Harambee! Are we so environmentally conscious that we have to recycle other people’s signature policies? What is wrong with ‘toxoba,’ or ‘mbuae’ or ‘muhakwa’? The ‘mbuae’ policy. It rolls off the tongue so beautifully. The Harambee policy may be a runaway success, but I just cannot connect with the name that we chose. I feel that we missed a point to choose a language of our own and in the process cementing the belief that truly, no one shall be left out. And that tender talks are completely banned at State House. In fact, I want to ban the plan to ban the song “softly and tenderly” from the State House. Let’s pull together. Komesho! Kughutho! Aren’t Namibian languages just beautiful?
Michael Munika is the Head of Industrial Relations for NANLO based in Walvis Bay.