From peace in the home to peace in the world: make education safe for all. This initiative against GBV is very necessary as well as timely. I am very honoured to be stating my views on an issue that needs solving at an opportunity like this. Namibia as a country need to raise the bar above violence and not only addressing violent behaviour to women and children, but to also address the issue of fatherlessness. When we talk about violence, we talk about men hitting women and children physically bulling each other. This is violence and is a problem. But our country also has a problem of fatherlessness. Recently more than 80 spiritual leaders came together at the Rock Lodge and highlighted fatherlessness as the biggest problem in our country. Fathers walk out on their female partners and leave them to raise the child on their own. They make the baby and disappear. There is no father, period. We need to realise that violence is not just fathers beating and abusing their wives and children, the absence of the father himself is great violence towards the mother and child. The father plays no role in educating and being a role model to his child. No role in teaching his son to be a gentleman or treating women with respect and like gold rather than garbage.
Thus, the lack of a father figure in the life of a young boy leads to GBV as the boy does not know what a real man is and society is telling him it is hitting and abusing his wife. We all know the phrase, “Hurting people hurt others.” Well, people without a father hurt. This could lead to feeling abandoned and low self-esteem. This problem is many a times, hidden under a strong personality, but hurting on the inside. They never heard their father telling them that he loves them and affirming their potential. These fatherless children hurt.
They hurt others either physically or emotionally, and both are a case of violence. We need the fathers of our country to take responsibility for the child they helped to make. Fathers need to be examples to their children and affirm their potential.
To the parents. Please be very careful how you treat your children. Children are easily influenced by what you say. If you verbally abuse them and tell them they are a failure, they will believe it. Verbally abusing your child is violence. Hurting people hurt others, remember. The domino effect you start will affect many others. So be an example to your children. Affirm their potential and love them. Love them without reason, without condition. Fathers, please hug your boys. In some cultures I know this is taboo. I respect culture, but please, boys crave that physical affection of the safe harbour of their father’s arms. This whole activism campaign is also focused on children’s right to education. So to the teachers. You, as parents too, have great influence on children. Please use this wisely. Do not compare children to each other and do not tell children they are stupid or any other form of verbal abuse as this is also violence to the child. I can still remember how hurt I was when teachers compared me and told me I was stupid.
It hurts. Nothing hurts more than the feeling of being useless. So teachers, please watch what you say to your children.
Still on the education train. In Namibia, 70 000 learners enter Grade 8. More than half fail Grade 10. Only 4 000 are capable of going to universities. Thus 4 000 out of 70 000 are well educated. This is a real problem. A violent one. Our government spends more money on education, pro rata, than any other country in Africa. Thus the government is trying. Unfortunately, too many teachers contribute to this problem. I praise God for the teachers who build the lives of children up for the better, but sadly, this cannot be said of all teachers. Verbal and physical violence towards children certainly won’t help. There needs to be some sort of a performance evaluation on teachers. We need to start working towards results. If results are not met, consequences should be put into place. Withholding good education from a child is violence toward that child.
Now to my fellow youth and children. It is time for us to stop fighting for our rights and to start to take up the mantle of responsibility. It’s time to stop asking what we can get and time to start looking for ways to improve ourselves and our circumstances by what we do. We need to love others even if we did not have a father and our mother verbally abused us. We need to choose to forgive and find a way out of the hole we are in. We need to study and work hard to ensure our success regardless of the teacher. We define our destiny not anybody else. But we cannot change our destiny for the better if we continuously fight the past. I know it is difficult, but uphill results need uphill habits to be achieved. Nothing worthwhile is easy. C.S Lewis writes in his book, Prince Caspian, the following, “We can never know what would’ve happened, but what will happen is another matter entirely.” We cannot change the past, but we can influence our future. It’s time for us to be the change we want to be in the world.
For Namibia to raise the bar above all violence, fathers will have to start taking responsibility for their children and care for them, teaching them what an adult should be. The parents of our beautiful Namibia must affirm their children’s potential and love them. Teachers need to build children up and ensure good education leading to a successful future. The youth of the land of the brave must then be brave. Taking control of their lives and rising above their circumstances to bring change to the future. As you can see this is not a one man show. To bring forth change for the better our nation has to take hands, all genders, all races and all ages. We need to solve this problem together. Not just GBV but violence as a whole!
Dawie Fourie Jr
Junior Mayor of City of Windhoek