Saturday 17 April 2021
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Do you know your neighbours? Yay, Nay, Why?

The adage says when your neighbour’s house is on fire, you should help with a bucket of water because you never know same when it is your time in need. A neighbour is a brother in a time of emergency. According to an African proverb ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ With that statement as a value underscoring the manner in which you conduct yourself one understands the importance and the role that is played by the neighbour, especially when they are absent. But things are changing and we don’t even know the name of the family next door.
Opening the discussion on the “neighbour” question reveals an image of contrast depending on communities and cultures. Like it is a given – there is a difference between the way the people interact with their neighbours in a township like Katutura compared to the tall-walled houses on the other side of the B1 road.
The residents of Katutura tend to have a more hospitable relationship with their neighbour that extends further than the occasional polite greetings and acknowledging nods. Kids grow up in the streets and the community become their parents as a collective. On the other side of town, a different dynamic exists. No engagement, no interaction and perhaps a distant wave every now and then. Some may say this is because of their busy work schedules while others may lay blame on the technology such as internet banking and online shopping saying it encourages them to stay indoors. Nowadays neighbours just lack the effort needed to maintain a friendly relationship.
“I don’t interact with my neighbours because I would have to create bonds and relationships with them” says Jadé Shivute. However, another opinion can say that this is totally against our communal African outlook. People have been known to die in the West and it is the smell that alerts people that the neighbour has passed on. “The African past was a lot warmer with everyone on the lookout for everyone else. We should retrace our step to this posture of ‘love your neighbour,” said a lady who simply gave her name as Ima.
“They can also be important when I get robbed so they can call the police but other than that I don’t think they are important” says Jadé Shivute when asked about the same subject.
Neighbours can share their resources with each other. From something as basic as borrowing salt to something as extravagant as lending your truck with the confidence that it would come back in one piece. However neighbours have more use than the occasional helping out when of sugar or salt runs out. A traditional African proverb states “It takes a village to raise a child”, this means that the upbringing of a child is a communal effort. This proverb encourages relationships with the community of a neighbourhood.
Neighbours can have a hand in the upbringing of a child in one way or another. They introduce your children to a variation of cultures and world views. They may at times advice your children and become their role models. A neighbour can take care of a child for a few hours on behalf of their neighbour if they were to attend that must-get job interview or sit for that make or break-career professional examination. During trying times a neighbour may as well go as far has allowing the neighbour’s child to stay with them for a period of time.
If neighbours have children, it is most advantageous especially to security conscious for parents who would rather have their child within earshot at all times. Furthermore, when one’s child is next door it enables you to keep tabs on them while letting them enjoy themselves safely.
Having a more than polite relationship with ones neighbours has greater advantages. “We are able to help each other when it comes to safety” says Michael Mulunga. A neighbour increases the safety of one’s family or that of themselves or just the feeling of safety. Your neighbours can play a major role in your health safety. They can drive your very pregnant wife to the hospital if need be or call on an ambulance for your child. “When we are on vacation and they see somebody at our house, they are able to call and ask us,” added Mulunga.
“In addition to one’s safety neighbours can look out for one’s property during vacation days, take care of your pets and even water your plants. Your neighbours may even call the police on your behalf if they believe there is some suspicious activity taking place at your home such as a robbery.”
“No matter how lovely the location of your house is, if you have inconsiderate neighbours you would never enjoy your stay. Therefore, knowing your neighbours’ likes and dislikes and vice versa reduces the likelihood of a confrontation and stress” says Ima. Adding that they may also act as confidants and supporters of the family.
“Your neighbours would know when not to be too loud or rowdy and maintain due privacy. They would avoid doing things that can cause animosity with you and try to maintain a peaceful coexistence. We can pick our friends but we cannot pick our neighbours therefore it is advisable to try live on friendly terms to ensure a pleasurable life.”
The famous proverb “do to others what you want them to do onto you” supports the neighbour discussion which means if you want someone to treat you in a certain way you have to treat that person accordingly. So we should all strive to be supportive and helpful neighbours.

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