Sunday 11 April 2021
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Classism: our post-apartheid racism

Its time we point out the elephant in the room. Namibia has for far too long ignored our segregation and negative thoughts towards the different classes.

A complex definition of social class is that it is a set of subjectively defined concepts in the social sciences based on models of social stratification in which people are grouped into a set of hierarchical social categories, the most common being the upper, middle and lower classes. These are not politically fueled systems.

In layman’s terms, its basically a system that segregates people and their communities based on how much their families are worth and what circles they mingle in. This is solely based on a Namibian community basis.

Over the few months I’ve noticed small things that we have over looked and which really bring injustice to many.

Initially we thought racism, although we are 28 years in a post-apartheid era, was Namibia’s main problem when it came to wealth distribution. A few years later and we have black local businesses dominating our community and at the ratio of white to black people in our country, I would personally say we have not allowed “racism” to hold us down to a system of racial confinement and prejudice.

We are still growing as a nation so do not misinterpret the notion, for there is still a very long and winding road ahead of us to get to a point of perceived unity and inclusiveness.

But in the process we have lost touch with morality and empathy for those that are not as enabled as others or even ourselves. We have created a system where if someone earns less than me, they are automatically less human than I am.

So I took a cab the other day, as I normally do and noticed something strange.  We parked next to a City of Windhoek bus and I realized just how much we as a community have bastardized this specific public means of transport.  We don’t use it because we subliminally categorized it for the lower class in Windhoek – can’t say Namibia because I am not sure if we the same systems in other towns. I highly doubt that – and because we consider or actually are above this class of people we have made it taboo to ourselves use the bus.

While I am on the topic of public transport lets talk about taxi, not really the use of it but the respect for taxi’s.  Society has really had it with them.  But I sometimes feel we are very subjective when it comes to the taxi driver, yes we all know they are reckless in their manner of driving and yes they are some of the rudest individuals we encounter on a daily basis, but I have realized we treat taxi different for things that we would do ourselves.  A normal passenger makes an illegal U-turn – no one bats an eyelid, a taxi moves to the next lane and everyone loses their minds, unions are being called and parliamentary sessions are being held – please note I’m being a tad bit extra so my illustration might not be true to actual events.

Lets talk about the way we treat our cashiers, waiters, security guards and cleaners –  these are but a few amongst many.  We tend to treat them just as if they were slaves with no human regard. We don’t see that they are making a living just as we are and they have normal lives very similar to ours just without the excess, access to cash and above average living.

When was the last time you asked your waiter their name? When have you ever asked the security guard if it’s cold, so you close the door for them? When was the last time you greeted your cashier first before complaining that they are rude for not doing so first?

We lost our empathy for humanity, because of a notion that our bank accounts have more humanness than those who can only live to meet ends meet. And please don’t say no but I do charity work, because any person can put money in a bank account as relief, but not every person can show hope to the next one through actions.

Check yourself.

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