On this day, every citizen desires to break away from regular routine and take time in deep reflection on what progress Namibia has made in the twenty-two years of Independence. We need to reflect on the sacrifices the sons and daughters of the land of the brave have gone through and whether it was worth the effort.
There must be a good reason why we must feel the sense of belonging or, shall I say the obligation to be part of the festivities. While the elders have so much to say about the origins of the struggle for justice and how it was waged in the past and why the old guard must own the revolution, the youth cannot say the same. The aim of all that belligerence, carnage and weeping was Independence, and apartheid South Africa did get the message in the end. The consequence was the firm resolution to govern ourselves and to map out our own destiny.
The launch of the “my pride - my country” campaign last year was an acknowledgement by the state that the reconciliation process has taken a nosedive. The extreme partisan politics of the last 22 years is another reason why the pomp of Independence has waned, so much so, that many equate Independence with the ‘revolutionaries’ - not as a day for all Namibians to celebrate the freedom, peace and tranquillity that we all should enjoy.
Independence celebrations should be an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between all language-groups and to instil the notion of unity in diversity. National reconciliation has been still-born since 1990 because it is based on assumptions and not on veracity of facts on the ground. That is perhaps the motive why some Namibians do not attend the celebrations. Independence Day is meaningless in the wake of disunity, animosity, sightless loyalty, parochial politics and poverty. It seems the country is suffering from an acute identity-crisis.
Perhaps it was an insolent passage to rotate the celebrations in all the 13 regions – this time with the main event in Mariental, but desolately it is the same decayed tradition of ‘revolutionaries’ telling us how brave they were to fight for Independence. There’s so much talk of philosophies and strategies in most cases, but hardly any mention of accomplishments that have made a dent in the social conditions of those at the bottom of the ladder. As usual, there’s hardly any room for introspection and concrete policies that can lead the country to prosperity. Instead we celebrate mediocrity and thereby maintain the status quo.
Our Constitution, adopted in 1990 by the legendary constituent assembly, is more than just a piece of paper quoted or referred to only for convenience. It must be the Alfa and Omega of the ties that bind us together. Like a baby, Namibia started teething, then crawling, walking and talking. She did not worry about her future as she was in the good hands of ‘tested revolutionaries’. Critics had a lot to say then, but she has stood the test of time. Suddenly, like a rebellious adolescent at the age of 22, she might have forgotten the aim of Independence and that’s why it’s crucial that the day should be celebrated by all Namibians irrespective of party-political affiliation.
At the age of 22, she’s still vulnerable to corruption and greed. But against all odds, Independence Day should be a public holiday for all or it risks becoming just another holiday with no affluence or denotation to all the inhabitants of the country.
Happy 22nd Birthday Namibia