Valentines day is around the corner!
Without fail next week will be painted in red and white colours, symbolic of love. Young and older couples across the globe will go out of their way to convince each other of the heights and depths of their love with gifts and acts of romance whilst social media will be abuzz with snaps, tweets and live feeds of all things love.
The Lounge sought wisdom nuggets on love and relationships from two national daughters-in-law of the Namibian soil who now calls Namibia their home because true love happened.
Mrs Jane Katjavivi (Mrs K), author and wife of incumbent Speaker of the national Assembly, Peter Katjavivi shared that Valentine’s day used to be less commercialised in the days of old compared to what is happening today.
The Lounge: How did you meet?
Mrs K: My husband and I met over 40 years ago in London through our shared commitment to the liberation of Southern Africa. I worked with a voluntary educational organisation offering scholarships for students deprived of education by the political circumstances in their countries. We wanted to set up a programme for Namibian students to come to the UK. I approached Bishop Colin Winter, the Anglican Bishop for Namibia who had been deported by the South African regime, and he advised that I talk to Peter, who was then the SWAPO Representative for the UK and Western Europe. Later I went to work with him in the SWAPO office in London.
The Lounge: Was it love at first sight?
Mrs K: I was impressed by my husband from the first moment I met him and we fell in love as we worked together on press statements, reports, and briefings. We were married in 1981 and we have two children together, and two young grandsons.
The Lounge: How did you navigate challenges of being an interracial couple, especially in light of the work you were both actively engaged in?
Mrs K: We worked hard, organising meetings, publicising the terrible realities of South Africa’s illegal occupation of Namibia, and mobilising support for SWAPO and the Namibians who were leaving the country and being looked after in SWAPO Health and Education Centres in Zambia and Angola.
There wasn’t a lot of time for personal relationships. Some people were also sceptical about us as a couple, and didn’t expect us to stay together.
We were once shouted at by an old lady in the streets of London as we walked with our arms round each other, but we’ve not experienced real opposition. Peter’s family welcomed me when I came to Namibia with him in 1989, as my family in the UK had welcomed him. Sometimes still, though, when we enter a new place where we’re not known, we can see that people don’t expect us to be together because we don’t look alike.
The Lounge: Describe your husband
Mrs K: My husband is a man of deep integrity, committed to serving the Namibian people, generous, loving, and protective of me and his children. I respect him above everyone except God. He respects me and my work over the years developing and publishing Namibian books and writing.
The Lounge: How did you keep the fire burning over the years?
Mrs K: We talk to each other about politics, world events, our work and our family. We discuss problems and work out solutions together. We give each other space to watch different TV programmes. We go out for meals together when we can. We send each other Valentine’s cards. We dance and laugh together.
Joan Guriras, Business-woman and wife to Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Theo-Ben Gurirab emphasized the importance of understanding in a relationship. “People have expectations, generally not articulated or shared with one another. We are not the same and it is only through talking and sharing about ourselves; fears, hopes, dreams, expectations, that we can get to a place in the relationship when a light goes off and we can say – I understand my partner, I might not agree but I understand- and because it is or should be a relationship based on love. Understanding breeds acceptance and acceptance breeds respect and respect breeds unconditional love”.
She shared with The Lounge that President Hage Geingob played match-maker and that it was not love at first sight, but the love grew over the course of a year.
“The multicultural aspects of our relationship, which everyone assumed would be a problem, really only surfaced once we returned to Namibia in 1990. However, upon our return I was given a verbal list of does and don’ts as well a litany of things he will no longer do- because he is returning home to Africa, physically, socially, emotionally and mentally.
Navigating the cultural differences was not as daunting as I anticipated, primarily due to the customs and traditions of the African Americans, who having been taken from the continent hundreds of years earlier, never completely lost the customs. Of course, there were those that weren’t openly talked about which I found difficult. But all-in-all, there was nothing culturally challenging that I could not adjust to or accommodate”.
Below are our top 3 wisdom nuggets for Valentine’s Day inspired by Mrs Katjavivi and Mrs Guriras:
1. Love transcends race and culture
2. Love is unique for each couple
3. Love often means just dancing with and respecting your friend
Above the hype around the 14h February, endeavour to intentionally love your significant other daily!