During the month of March I took some time to reflect on the significance of independence and what it means to be a born free. Born five years after independence I was born into privilege. I have no idea what it means or how it must feel to be denied of your fundamental human rights because of the colour of your skin. I have no idea how it must feel like to enter a place and be told “whites only.” I will never know what it means to be taught in the Bantu education system. And although I consider Afrikaans ‘my moeder taal’ as I speak the language at home, I could never image myself being taught all nine subjects in Afrikaans.
My parents migrated to Namibia from South Africa as two young adults in search of a better life. They endured a time in history that I can only imagine but would never wish to be repeated. When people often talk about the Apartheid era and the ‘Armed Struggle’ they refer to people who went to exile and fled to countries such as Zambia, Germany, Finland and Cuba to name a few. These individuals are celebrated as Heroes and evidently we cannot deny them of their status as they left their families, friends and homes to fulfil their duty for the land of the brave. Moreover in my perspective everyone who played a role in the liberation struggle ought to be celebrated equally. As should those who remained in the country and who had to fight the struggle from within and are thus heroes in their own right. These are the people who helped to build the country and were tortured in the name of those in exile. We then have to acknowledge the contribution and sacrifices they made for the country.
They had to keep the brothers and sisters in exile informed about the situation on the ground. They too were moved from old location to Katutura and worked for someone they had to address as “ja baas” and “nee bass”. And in exchange were paid peanuts for their hard earned labor.
Some people are of the opinion that that country was better off during the time of the apartheid regime. But I for one would never want to witness that bitter period as the scars of Apartheid lives on. And a lot of the economic and social problems faced by the country were inherited by the Apartheid government and as Jacob Zuma would say “Institutionalized Apartheid.”
I thus salute those whose blood waters our freedom and who were selfless enough to provide a better life for a born free such as myself. I begin to question whether I am doing justice to the freedom they fought for. Am I seizing the opportunities available? And if Hendrik Witbooi and Mandume Ndemufayo woke up from their graves today would this be direction that they would want our country to move in. It then becomes my duty to build on the foundation that they have laid.
To be an educated citizen that makes informed choices and decisions. I should strive to emulate the principles and the values they lead by. Indeed our needs today are different and the challenges we face today are not those faced by the youth of yesteryear. It is time that I become part of the agents of change. Be in the forefront of fighting corruption, tribalism and moving towards economic emancipation.
My Namibia, my Country, my Pride.