Friday 18 June 2021
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Heroes: Reclaiming a Lecacy of Selflessness

We admit that we live in a flawed society, burdened by so many social challenges, sufficient to give us nightmares. However, we also have a rich history to look back to, and perhaps salvage one thing or two which we can learn and apply to our present context.
We’re in the month of celebration our national heroes, we even have a day set aside just for that purpose. For many young people, this is but another wasteful activity.
What could we learn from this as a nation? Especially, at this time of crossroads.
Heroes Day, as far as I can remember has altered how we narrate history, by confining our identity in the liberation narrative that starts in the 1960s.
Surely, that part of our history is important, but shrinking our entire existence only to that small portion, robs us of long lines of historical figures.
These were selfless men and women who fought for this nation and never got to see the effects of their sacrifices. Emphasis on selflessness, a virtue.
The current liberation-centric narrative has captured the stage of Namibian history.
By so doing it has recreated itself into ‘The History’ that seeks to obliterate our existence and achievements before the 1960s.
That those who were part of the making of this new history now hold positions of power (social, economic and political) is not surprising.
In this new narrative, those who are rewriting history are also rewriting a wealthy heritage – that which drove them to the point of sacrificing their lives and resources to attain independence.
Our records of history, which are rarely mentioned in our public conversation, tell us of Namibian heroes and heroine who stood against oppression.
They were protecting their kingdoms, tribes and neigbhours, with no expectation of rewards.
This was the same legacy, I suppose, that drove many Namibians to take up arms and fight the South African regime. However, majority fought within the country, resisting and frustrating the internal structures of oppression.
These were all acts of selflessness we inherited from our ancestors.
I’d like to think that our Heroes Day should be a day set aside to remind us of how far we’ve come as a people. Rather it being an activity that is headed by the government to narrate its own record of history that starts in the 1960s, it should be a time of a holistic Namibian history.
These kinds of reminders is what is means to teach every generation of Namibians of their wealthy heritage.
Without conscious reminders of history, we’re most likely to have a generation that will continue to repeat the mistakes of the past.
Thus, Heroes Day should be a day of reminding and re-instilling values of selflessness or altruism as modelled by the Witbooi, Mandume, Maharero, Mwengere etc.
What we need is the creation of a national identity based on specific values that will help us work together to construct our own destiny as a nation. Such identity cannot be created through a half-baked history narrative.
At least for now, a holistic historical approach that deals with all we’ve achieved as a people would surely remind us of our value of selflessness.
It is not impossible to rethink our approach towards Heroes Day and redirect us to a value reminding time. Surely, our national heroes who paved the way for us before the 1960s acted out of principle.
I would also like to think that the generation of Tate Nujoma, Tate Kerina, Dada ||Garoëb etc were driven to engage the apartheid system based on principle.
Can we use this national platform to create a new awareness of what it means to be a Namibian, learning from our ancestors? Can we think of our heroes as those that are calling us to think of ourselves beyond political affiliations and primarily see ourselves as Namibians?
Without this conscious change of how we view and present our history today, we’re embark on a road to obliterate the wealth of our heritage.
As we celebrate this coming Heroes Day, the onus rest on us all to ensure that we tell our history in a way that would enhance our unity, identity, pride, nationhood.
Thus, moving away from a historical narrative that creates a false understanding of heroes and embrace the kind the presents a collective Namibian identity.

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