Monday 12 April 2021
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What is peace?

As I write this article, the Republic of Namibia which is a young democracy of the world at 27 and a child of international solidarity has just commemorated Heroes Day.
It is a day the young nation commemorates in remembrance of the Heroes and Heroines that lost their lives during the struggle for independence of Namibia. And at the same time on an undertone, to appreciate the peace and tranquility the country has had for the almost 3 decades.
This is obviously not a long time considering that countries have had peace for longer, but the reality still stands that many people in the world have known nothing about peace since their birth.
Many world icons like Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo and Man Hee Lee have through their work tried to remind the world that the achievement of peace is possible and that it can be sustained.
Bringing the peace discussion in the Namibian context means recognizing that the nation has an older generation that has seen war, pain and suffering and a younger generation that has experienced the exact same things well after the country gained its liberation.
Let me explain.
It cannot be disputed that since 1960 when the first bullet was fired at Onguluwombashe and long time before that including the occurrence of the first genocide of the century (The Nama and Herero genocide), the people of Namibia have known nothing but brutality, discrimination, hate and suffering.
Native Namibia citizens from all walks of life on top of all these calamities were also poor, not empowered, majority of them jobless and lived a very difficult and tough life.
Yet they grouped themselves, united and toppled the oppressor and emerged victorious. I would like to believe that before colonialism, Afrika and Namibia in particular knew nothing about war, hurt, pain, hunger, hate and poverty. Because Afrika is not poor. Afrika before the 17th century must have been the most peaceful inhabited continent on Earth.
This can be deduced from the principles and morals still alive in the Afrikan people today. The principles of Harambe, Uukumwe and Ubuntu for instance. The way value is put in a person that an individual person is no one without other people. Simply put in the oppressor’s language, Togetherness.
A group of people an only resist so much from a system that teaches them individuality, hate and selfishness. And little by little that oppressive system chipped away the value of compassion and valuing the next person in the DNA of the Afrikan people. I hear a lot the Afrikan proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. I am 21 years old and I am yet to see such a child.
So what is peace? The Oxford dictionary defines peace as ‘a situation or a period of time in which there is no war or violence in a country’. Therefore, based on this definition, what does peace mean in real terms and state of affairs? A functioning government? Maybe. An economically, politically and socially active citizenry?
Perhaps. Or does it mean a free and fair (independent) judiciary? All these questions describe a well-run and successful state.
Thus, the real question is whether Namibia fits the description of what the dictionary defines as peace- a country devoid of violence. I do not think so. Namibia is violent, very violent.
I could divulge into a discussion about the Sexual and Gender based violence, men violence and crime our country experiences every minute but I am sure the conclusion is clear.
I wonder if we have considered that peace begins in the household- the most micro of settings before anyone can say that they are part of a peaceful community and much less a ‘peaceful nation.’
Maybe we are all in denial Namibia. Peace does not heal our wounds from a violent past neither does peace feed or clothe us.
The pain and suffering the older generation suffered is the same pain the younger generation is enduring. But I can only imagine how much more it hurts to live in an independent Namibia and still bear the brunt of poverty, discrimination and disempowerment.
What I am trying to put across dear reader is that, the absence of war and conflict does not in any way translate in the automatic presence of peace.
Just because we are not on a battlefield fighting one another with bombs and guns, it doesn’t mean that we are not fighting one another with fists and tongues, or hate and discrimination.
Dear friends, we are still at war with poverty and violence, but our war is masked by rhetoric and the delusion of peace. We need to demystify the war and pray that we thwart this war, peacefully.
Young people today need to unite against conflict, take up peace as a guiding norm to achieve and sustain peace. And I do know and recognize that we are not super heroes but people do not simply just say that the young people are the future, we are and we need to live up to it by starting today.
We only have one planet and our beloved Namibia is on that one planet. We do not have Namibia B or Namibia 2.0 therefore let us guard it selfishly. Let us drive violence out of Namibia and welcome peace.
Emma Theophilus, Deputy Chairperson of the Children’s Parliament.

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