The promotion of nation-building in Namibia since independence has been popularly understood and embraced under the umbrella theme of “One Namibia, One Nation”. This common understanding was prevalent during the respective Sam Nujoma and Hifikepunye Pohamba administrations. This is because it was important to communicate a holistic united vision to all citizens due to years of oppression, segregation and discrimination. Without doubt, many caught onto this vision and perhaps it is the best existing explanation for the voter’s empathy that has been the force behind the election-winning streak of the SWAPO party to date. Nation-Building is said to be closely linked to de-colonization (Joachen Hippler) and in the Namibian case, the nation is synonymous to the equal emancipation of her people socially, politically and economically. A glance at the nation’s fibers reflect deep fragmentations along ethnic lines, economic and social status as well the colonial and apartheid legacy dubbed as “the land question” in political rhetoric. To that effect, it is commendable that the current Geingob administration has been fastidiously propagating a vision of the Namibian house as outlined in its Harambee Prosperity Plan. Hence, it is common knowledge that the prosperity plan is the government’s nation-building strategy. However, one needs to ask whom the Namibian house is for really?
The recent State of Nation Address (SONA) was a somewhat predictable and repetitive sordid affair. Repetitive because primary critique of the SONA is on its focus on recanting challenges and opportunities of the prosperity plan, which read like a media statement the Presidency could have issued separately. Predictable because at the heart of this analysis is whether the so called average Namibian citizen understands and embraces the nation-building vision of the government embodied in Harambee to similar lengths as the “one Namibia, one Nation” vision of yester years? I opine that it is not the case at all and as such rest my case on two points. The first is that it is difficult to buy into the prosperity plan when evidence such as income inequality reflect that only a select few prosper in Namibia. The media recently reported on some few millionaires and multi-millionaires in the country who propelled the land of the brave to become the third wealthiest country on the African continent in per capita terms. The figures estimated to be the wealth of the so-called average Namibian for many unemployed graduates is a laughable matter. It is depressing to hear ‘no must be left out’ when clearly masses are.
Secondly, in the recantation of the third pillar of the prosperity plan namely; Social Progression (SP), the SONA stated that, “Nations go to war when dialogue fails. In our democracy, we have sufficient room for frank and open dialogue. There is no reason for us to compromise our hard fought for independence by fighting one another over issues that can be resolved through constructive dialogue”. Sounds inclusive in theory however no one is fooling anyone when we have a law suit by Namibian citizens (Herero and Nama) against a foreign government (Germany) filed in a US court because of failed ‘inclusive’ constructive dialogue. If anything subliminally the SONA actually clearly communicated (in its 5th pillar) that Namibia is and remains a child of international solidarity and to that end, its relationship with Germany especially is very important. This is because “Germany is one of our biggest development cooperation partners” and therein lies the evidence that aid money trumps nation-building efforts. C.G. Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology, is popularly quoted for stating, “You are what you do, not what you say you will do”. The core message of Harambee right now is lost in translation when citizens see one thing whilst government does another. If indeed the first steps to building a house is to clear the land where the house will be built, then it suffices to conclude that our government is building the Namibian house on fallow ground as long as it keeps selling citizens a vision of exclusive inclusivity.
Rakkel Andreas is an MA European and International Studies graduate from the Centre International de Formation Européen (CIFE) in Nice-France as well as BA in Media Studies and Political Science from the University of Namibia. The viewpoints expressed by the author are inspired by her thesis titled “The influence of German Political identity on its foreign policy: An analysis on the special case of Namibia”.