… ‘It is unfortunate that people see Heroes Day as a day to rest’
Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah is not a good cook and is also not particular when it comes to food.
In fact, she has not eaten any form of meat for the past seven years.
“I love my vegetables, but I do not judge those who eat meat. I guess I fell in love with animals during my time as Minister of Environment and Tourism.”
When she is not on official duty as the country’s deputy prime minister, she tends to house chores such as doing laundry, cleaning the house, playing with her grandchildren and cooking for the family.
This was revealed during our interview at her house in Windhoek’s leafy suburb, Hochland Park.
This is the unknown side of Namibia’s much-liked deputy prime minister. Mother to six children of whom are three stepdaughters and three biological sons, Nandi-Ndaitwah took up a grandmother’s role as she spend time with twins Ndilokelwa and Nekoto while answering questions.
Even when spending time after hours at home before returning to work the next day, Nandi-Ndaitwah still has her ears firmly locked on the global current affairs. “I read a lot and watch TV as well, but mostly news channels,” said the country’s DPM who also doubles as the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.
There is clearly no recess in her job. But Nandi-Ndaitwah loves her job, despite the fact that it keeps her away from her family for most of the time.
“While it is very rare to have free weekends, I do not regret anything. I am up at 05h00 no matter what time I go to bed the previous night and on Saturdays I clean our bedroom. Sometimes I even make breakfast for the family.” When asked about the sacrifices her children had to endure in sharing her with the nation, she responds by saying “I see family in the broader context and Namibians whom I serve are my family,” she says.
Despite being a public figure, she still sees herself as an ordinary person who engages with people from all walks of life.
“I do not mind being with many people, provided that they are happy. In my eyes we are all equal,” said Nandi-Ndaitwah.
“I do not regret the road I have taken in my life because the work I do is a responsibility entrusted upon my by the people.
Of course when you are given a responsibility you want to see results, if not, one must always strive to do better for your people.”
Heroes Day holiday
“It is rather unfortunate that many of our people see Heroes Day merely as a holiday. For me Heroes Day is a day of reflection and appreciating the heroic deeds of our departed heroes. Therefore, we must use the day to reflect and recommit and rededicate ourselves for the good of our country.”
Contrary to popular belief, heroes are not only those who fought for the independence of the country. “We all have the ability to become heroes by carrying out heroic deeds for the nation.
There is no limits to heroes, until today we are creating new heroes.
In our situation we could have a demarcation; heroes of resistance, heroes of the liberation and the heroes of economic liberation. In the process, you will also have heroes of innovation and science, it should not be limited to heroes of the struggle.”
“If a Namibian invents something that has a huge impact on Namibia, that is a hero. This day should not be seen as a resting day, but rather one to reflect.”
28 years on
“My primary reflection on Heroes Day will center around the maintenance of peace and stability.
Increased access to potable water and widespread rural development which includes economic enablers such as electricity is also something I reflect on.”
Nandi-Ndaitwah concedes that more still needs to curb inequality in the country.
“More needs to be done when it comes to unemployment and inequality. That can only happen if all Namibians buy into government’s development programs,” she said. Nandi-Ndaitwah blamed the country’s prevailing inequality on greed.
“In order to reduce inequality we must all be sincere and honest. We cannot win the war against inequality if we have people overcharging government for goods and services procured,” she said.
The deputy prime minister underscored the importance of factual historical documentation and record keeping.
“History is important for every nation, because if you do not know where you come from you will not know where you are going.
The problem is the distortion of history, and if you have a distorted history you are doomed, it is like having a broken compass. We need our history told factually.” “Our heroes played their part, the only way to remember them is by carrying on the work they stood for and we must be patriotic at all times,” she said.
She also said: “It is up to us to complete what they have stood for and remain committed to defend our peace so that we can create a conducive environment to pursue our development agenda.”
She called for a strong intergenerational change to ensure that Namibia contributes positively to Africa’s 2063 industrialisation strategy.