Let ‘Ubuntu’ Thrive

Ubuntu is an ancient African word meaning ‘humanity to others’.

It reminds us that ‘I am what I am because we are’.

We have lost touch with it as Namibians.

Last week while taking a ride through public transport, I came across one of the worst forms of human behaviour, which convinced me we have lost touch with ubuntu and our history as Namibians.

Most of our northern towns’ streets are bustling with both young and old from Angola, Zimbabwe and Zambia, who are selling on the streets to make ends meet.

They have resorted to this due to the economic state of their countries.

I witnessed a commotion, as one Namibian attacked these merchants over the minor occurrence of a lost item which he left with one of the sellers.

He went as far as burning and destroying the goods the merchants were selling, irrespective of who erred against him.

I watched helplessly, and the least I could do was call the police.

The incident reminded me of the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa, but mostly made me realise that we as Namibians are slowly degenerating into an odious nation, which has forgotten its history.

During the height of our struggle for independence, Swapo and Plan fighters, as well as refugees, were offered asylum and safety in Angola.

Yet, 33 years after our liberation we have forgotten their hospitality and are treating them like strangers.

We are deporting them at every point we find them entering our country.

We are denying them schooling in our schools, while they offered us schools at Cassinga and the technical college at Nyango.

They have sheltered us from our enemies and risked their lives for us to find this freedom we enjoy today.

Had it not been for the Berlin conference of 1884, we would be united today, thus we have families that are divided by the alien borders we want to cherish and honour today.

What happened to ubuntu, what happened to Africanism?

We have opened borders with Botswana so that we can cross at will using our ID cards, yet we cannot do it for our northern siblings in Angola?

Angola has economic, social and political interests in Namibia.

Why is it so hard for our two governments to come to the table and agree on things that matter?

There is oil in Angola, yet our siblings are condemned to running around with fuel containers to make ends meet, because we refuse to invest and build a refinery to refine Angolan oil.

Only plastic politicians will forget the big role Angola played to help us attain independence.

I thus wish that our Namibian and Angolan governments would come to the table and discuss issues that matter, such as cross-border sales, oil, education and labour issues.

This is not to repay them, but to do what Africans are supposed to do, being human.
Salomo Ndeyamunye Ndeshimona

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