Happy Birthday, Namibia

The government has had a lot of criticism with regard to its care of its citizens over the years. Some of the criticism is fair. The government has a responsibility towards its people. However people also have a responsibility towards their nation.

Today I want to write about what independence means to me as a Namibian. Our country was quite late in receiving its independence, so we learned from the mistakes that other countries made after their independence. We didn’t indulge in witch-hunts to punish those that were deemed collaborators with the previous regime. And that is a good thing. The war was long and bitter and turned brother against brother. While national reconciliation did not heal all the wounds, it made the progress to become a democratic state easier.

Despite huge challenges, our democracy is still healthy and vibrant. We have relatively good roads and schools. And our judiciary is still independent. There are a lot of things giving me hope for the future for our country. When the deputy minister of youth ranted against certain tribes, the Namibian people did not go riot in the streets. They debated the issues in an adult manner. Despite corruption being prevalent, there still are honest politicians in the cabinet and parliament. Men and women who have ethics to profit from the sweat of their own labour. And instead of being discouraged by the President’s attack on the youth, I see it as a sign that the youth, even in the SWAPO Youth League are concerned enough about the country to speak out against the elders. Yes, I would like more civility in our discourse as a nation, but as long as we are talking, there is hope.

In the end the responsibility for our success and failure lies with us, the people. No government in the world can take care of all its people by giving them things. It can only create an environment to allow people to succeed. For all our criticism, we are responsible for how we go through life, not the government. Knock on doors, learn a trade, don’t sit on your behind waiting for affirmative action or BEE. Independence means that we have to be grown up enough to take charge of our own future, and not wait for government to give us things. A society that looks to government for its solutions will remain a place of perpetual infants. No nation can survive by going that route. Be a responsible citizen. Question your government, but encourage the bright spots. Find things to do for your country, instead of waiting for handouts. Happy Independence Day, Namibia.

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Sleeping Beauties and Independence..

Our parliamentarians must be as pleased as punch. On the eve of Independence Day they received news that they will soon be moving out of the unsafe, decrepit Tintenpalast into a new building. No doubt they are not getting enough sleep for the fear of a piece of crumbling masonry falling on their head while in their sleep. You have to feel for them. After all, even the Chinese treat their employees better than our parliamentarians are treated. For example, there are no beds in the parliamentary chambers and parliamentarians have to make do with sleeping in their seats.

Mike’s law says that the moment a politician enters parliament, he loses his common sense and becomes disconnected from reality. How can one justify erecting a billion dollar structure when people are scrounging in rubbish bins just to survive?Judging by the quality of debates, a a new parliamentary building is at the bottom of my list. Do our politicians have no sense of shame? Are they content to be just footnotes in the history books? Or are they just content to draw their pay, sleep and then go reciting meaningless slogans at rallies? One Namibia one nation my foot!

It has been clear for a while now that there are two Namibias. One is for your average Namibia who tries to make ends meet, by working his butt off and yet getting nowhere. He may go scrounge in a dump or two to support his family. He is ashamed of not being able to provide for his family. He sometimes votes, but lately he has begun to lose hope.

The other is your average politician and BEE tenderpreneur. He has a wide circle of friends, lives in a nice house and goes to the nicest restaurants in town. He has solid political connections and wields a lot of influence. He can afford to bend the law because he knows that his political friends will protect him. He still believes in the dreams of political struggle, as long as it benefits him.

As we approach independence, many Namibians are asking themselves. What does independence mean to me. Is it just about getting to vote for who would screw you the least? Or is it more than that? For 22 years Namibians have been patient, hoping that after the old guard have looted enough they would turn to the business of empowering the common man in the street. The countdown is about to hit zero, and people will lose patience. Politicians swore to serve Namibia. The time is now. Ignore the people at your peril.

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Dude, where is my revolution?

President Pohamba seems to have given himself a poke on “bookface”. His feelings were hurt by the youth who wanted to claim the revolution. In the classic “my revolution is bigger than your revolution” style, he decided to put them in their places. The revolution is dead, long live the revolution.

In the same week, Insight magazine published its cabinet scorecard. Let us just say that there is nothing revolutionary going on in the cabinet. If the ministers had been students at our prestigious mark, even the Sexually Transmitted Marks wouldn’t allow most of them to scrape through with an adequate pass.

Our President is a nice guy. I really think he is a gentleman. It is not his fault that his character makes people want to indulge in a snoozefest whenever he opens his mouth. I understand that he would want to show a little more spine when dealing with the recalcitrant elements in his party. However he should save his venom for the real problems facing Namibia. The scourge of corruption has spread its tentacles in all aspects of Namibian life, and the ACC seems to be an agency created to misdirect citizens. They put the spotlight on the small fish, while the big fish continue stealing in the dark. A handy magic trick. Houdini politics at its best.

To paraphrase Admiral Nelson, Namibia expect every man to do his duty. And the youth have a role to play in this country. That includes giving their opinions about the state of the country. When the current generation is gone, it is the current youth who will have to live with the result of the decision that the Pohamba generation is making now. Of course, there must be respect in our national discourse. The leaders have a responsibility to lead by example in this regard, and sadly their record over the years hasn’t been stellar.

President Pohamba had a chance to show presidential gravitas on this issue. He could have addressed the issues that the youth raised, while pointing out where they erred. By doing so he could have killed two birds with one stone. Sadly he chose to indulge in a schoolyard tantrum.

The revolution died with a whimper when we let the majority of our people slide into poverty. It petrified when we dumped a huge number of our children onto the street without any hope. Until our leaders stop talking slogans and really empower the people, we will remain a people shackled by the sickly glow of an evolution that was mistaken for a revolution, a parody where political selection culls out the honest and competent, and elevates the scoundrels and scumbags.

At least President Pohamba knows about facebook, so all is not lost. I challenge the President to come into the twenty-first century and open an official “bookface” and twitter account, so that the youth can get to know him better, and he can get to know the youth better. We may even get to like his status.

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Of beggar kings and forgotten peons

Last year, as I was coming out of Shoprite, a group of boys, approached me. At first  I thought that they were going to rob me, until I realized that they were from a certain school. They were looking for donations from patriotic individuals, they said, to help with some project at school. This got me thinking of the dangers of what amounts to sanctioned begging and its implications.

There is no free lunch, a wise man said,  probably after he wanted to take off with a chicken from a medieval market in the middle ages and lost his head for it. It is a tough truth, but the sooner we teach our children that, the earlier we get to empower them to take their destiny in their own hands. There is nothing wrong in asking the society to help contribute to the development of its children. However giving children papers with stamps and sending them on begging expeditions is not a way to teach a child that by the sweat of his brow he shall earn his keep. It teaches laziness, it teaches a sense of entitlement where we as a society create a perception that we owe the unfortunate child a living. And most importantly, it deprives a child of that sense of self worth that comes when he makes money for himself or for his school through his own efforts. A hundred dollars made through a talent show is more valuable than ten thousand made through solicitation. When kids come together to plan activities for raising funds, it engenders a sense of unity, belonging and pride. It also gives the community a better sense of involvement. And most importantly, it teaches the children the importance of work.

Nowhere did the seeds of our beggar mentality sprout its shoots than in the “HIV/AIDS industry”. A bunch of donor organizations relying almost exclusively on donor funding decided to pay its staff extravagant salaries. And of course they didn’t see a problem with this. Donor funding, folks, comes from the taxes of poor people from (relatively) rich countries to help fund things like HIV/AIDS treatment. Organizations like Nanaso(Namibia Network of Aids Service Organizations) exist at the sufferance of donors. However, the kings of beggars use it as a platform to enrich themselves. I still have yet to see the technical expertise of the top people in “HIV/AIDS management” that requires such exorbitant salaries. In rural areas, most of HIV/AIDS counseling and aftercare services are done by volunteers in programmes like the Catholic AIDS Action and ELCIN AIDS Action. Most of the volunteers are poor people who have no employment, yet sacrifice their time and effort.The last time I checked, volunteers in the Catholic AIDS Action were getting twenty to fifty dollars a month in stipends. And the king of beggars? They are able to buy big cars and mansions. Most are just like a bunch of jackals, getting fat on the bones of AIDS victims. Doubtless there are good people in HIV/AIDS care, but seeing at how the top management is defending the exorbitant salaries, I am inclined to tar them all with one brush.

Africa is a continent rich in resources, but due to the beggar mentality we sell our souls for a few dollars or yuan with no rhyme or reason, except that the beggar kings must live in splendour while their people live in squalor. Unless we teach our children to stand on their own feet at a younger age, we will always remain a continent of beggar kings and forgotten peons.

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The slow hand of Justice

Shalli came out guns blazing and told Martha Imalwa, “I want my money!” Martha Imalwa still insists that Shalli got his funds through corrupt means. I have no idea how many old ladies Shalli had to off to get 2.8 million. However I am concerned at the state using “suspicion” to take people’s money. The law is clear, prove beyond reasonable doubt that a person indulged in criminal behaviour. You charge him, try him and if he is guilty, send him to the hostel for a few years. Using the law as a blunt instrument to beat down everyone perceived as a threat is so Soviet Union(ish). I am sure that some of our aging politicians still wish for the days when Moscow was their oyster and believed that communism was the best thing since oshikundu, but those days are gone. We don’t need no Banana Republic here. The Justice Ministry is not an agency for settling scores. Shalli is innocent until proven guilty. That is why he retired with full honours. So Martha, shit or get off the pot.

Paranoia reached boiling point when King Pohamba went to Tsumeb. He saw an old Huey, and not knowing that the Huey retired ages ago he nearly jumped out of his skin. Like the kings of old he gave a decree and the Director of Aviation lost his job. Be thankful it wasn’t your head, Bethuel. I wonder why Erkki didn’t resign. He is the ultimate boss and the buck stops with him. Or has King P, or Lucas, as he is affectionately known been appeased by the figurative blood of the director of civil aviation? There is no law that prohibits military collectibles with foreign markings, despite what the New Era editorial team’s collective hysteria over the whole incident. Reading their editorial of today, you would have thought that a squadron of F-22 Raptors where brought in the country.

Contrast all this hoopla with President Pohamba’s response to the GIPF and avid scandals. Well how about ODC, then? Shows what our priorities are, doesn’t it. Corruption is fine and well, but embarrass the king and you will lose your head.

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The state of the nation

If there ever was a time to stop boozing and smoking, it is now. According to the Namibian, the price of liquor will jump by up to 20% as from today. So will the price of cigarettes. If you haven’t hoarded up a few cases of your favourite beer for a rainy day, you are out of luck. Today is the rainy day. In the meantime, to combat the high incidence of tooth decay in Namibia, the price of sugar will be increased by up to nine percent. Apparently our smiles frighten away tourists, so a decree had to be passed that everyone who doesn’t have a beautiful smile will be forcibly made to have a root canal treatment. Without anaesthetic.

According to the bank of Namibia, we are still in dire economic straights, so we are urged to tighten our belts. Those who do not have belts must make do with ropes. Even Saara is worried. She was in hysterics the other day when she saw the amount of money that she has to give to uncivil civil servants. I am sure her mood won’t be improved by the demands of NBC’s Choosing Beggar. Mr AA(not alcoholics anonymous), wants 470 million for his NBC, or there won’t be any broadcasts of Parliamentarians sleeping in parliament. Angelika Muharukua is hardest hit.

Talk about bailouts. The Namibian Airport Company is defunct. They are closing up shop, so soon the Hosea Kutako Airport will have A DIY section where you check your own bags yourself. But not to worry, the taxpayers have got your back, NAC. Just like we have helped Air Namibia, NBC, Nampower and Telecom Namibia. How can we leave those top ranking comrades without jobs? So we pour money into sinkholes, while our people enjoy snacks at rubbish dumps. Let them eat promises, says Penny Antoinette.

If there is something Namibia doesn’t need more of, it is political parties. Yet Jossy Joss, that prince of commitment has started a new one, with the cool name of PDP. He should be suing Natis very soon for using his party name on Public Driving Permits. But not to worry, he will probably soon venture into music, or something that catches his fancy. So if we make him president, we can rest assured that he won’t be a lifelong dictator.

The budget will be tabled soon. Soon you will be able to know how much TIPEEG had screwed you. Another pro poor budget, methinks. The poor will be given promises, and then forgotten. Your tax dollars at work, folks. And that is the state of the nation.

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Honour the Father and the Son

Soon we will have the Father of The Nation on all our legal tender. He is a great man and every Namibian must show him the respect he deserves. That is why I propose that we name everything after him. What greater honour the Father of our great nation receive than to walk in a street named after him, to shop in a shop named after him(not that we would let him shop in low class dumps controlled by imperialists), to fly in a plane named after him and to see himself on banknotes. That would warm even the most chill of hearts.

I propose that we call our new museum the Sam Nujoma Museum for the Glory of the Revolutionary Cadres, the parliament The Sam Nujoma House of Equality and Justice. We can call the Bank of Namibia the Sam Nujoma bank for the Economic Emancipation of the Republic of Namibia. I am sure you get the idea. Even that wouldn’t be enough. We must name all the major streets after our glorious Father of the Nation. It might be confusing at first, but what is a little convenience with bestowing honour that is due to him? I can just imagine a scenario: A guy walks up to another guy and says, “excuse me, how do I get to the Sam Nujoma University?” and the other guy tells him, “Go in Sam Nujoma Street, turn right into Sam Nujoma avenue until you reach Sam Nujoma drive. The University is in the second Sam Nujoma lane.” You see, no confusion there.

And we must enforce the law where the Founding Father was declared the Father of The Nation. Anyone who breaks it by calling him Uncle Sam or Founding President must be sent to Sam Nujoma re-education camp. I am sure we could liberate a white farm to create a nice camp wheef the Republic are taught what respect and patriotism is. They could even be made to learn Sema uli peni, that revolutionary song that will never grow stale. And I suggest that we pass another law calling The Honourable Minister Uutoni Nujoma The Son of The Nation. Anyone who breaks that law should just be shot. I mean, there are just too many hibernators trying to derail our Republic.

I just changed my mind. the reason our kids are failing and our doctors are not treating patients well is because they are not showing enough patriotism. So to increase patriotic fervour, I suggest that parliament pass another law compelling every government official to have a photo of the father of the nation that they must kiss at the start of each work day. They must also kiss it at the end of each work day. In that way, not only will we be honouring the Father of our nation, but also inspiring our people to be revolutionary, shun hibernators, and reject imperialists. However, all imperialists shall be reclassified as development partners when they give us money. Our founding Father is the bedrock of our Republic. To make it easier on you all, I suggest we call him Dear Leader.

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