• December 3rd, 2020

Thought Leaders


Afrikaans: The language we love to hate

On 2 August 2019, the New Era newspaper carried two very interesting opinion pieces. One piece was written by Lawrence Kamwi and the other by Prof. Kangira. Mr Kamwi’s piece was titled ‘African togetherness is a character-reclaiming exercise’ and the latter was titled ‘Swahili:

Taking stock of the major goals of education for all

Education for all was coined at the 1990 World Bank Conference in Jomtien, Thailand, which calls for the promotion of Western-style primary education in Africa, in the process robbing the African child of his or her indigenous knowledge and language, promoting what Brock-Utne calls ‘the recolonization of the African mind (Brock-Utne, 2000).


Opinion - Meditation quarantines distractions

The late former prime minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, who is remembered for successfully leading the country through World War Two and was famous for refusing to surrender, once cautioned that “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”


Opinion - The Land Indigenization Bill

The Affirmative Repositioning (AR), the only genuine leftist movement at the forefront of addressing landlessness and housing challenges in Namibia - on behalf of citizens and land activists submitted to the National Assembly on 18 March 2019 during a #MarchForLand demonstration and again resubmitted on 23 June 2020 “The Land Indigenization Bill” for the decisive legislation to solve the land question at a legislative level.

Opinion - Pulling together at once

In his powerful quote, Martin Niemöller (1892 – 1984), a Lutheran minister and early Nazi supporter, who was later imprisoned for opposing Hitler›s regime, expressed his sentiments in the following words: “First, they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.


Opinion - Nursing and midwifery, distinct professions not a calling

The year 2020 is dedicated to nurses and midwives by the World Health Organisation (WHO), with the aim to create momentum and celebrate the incredible work of 22 million nurses and two million midwives who makes up half of the global health workforce and to highlight that the world needs nine million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. 

Remembering comrade Jason Angula

I came to know the late Jason Angula in 1970 when he joined us at Martin Luther High (MLH) school from St. Mary’s Odibo to complete his matric (Grade 12).  I also had the pleasure of making his acquaintance when we played rugby for the first team at MLH. 

The only way to produce graduates who meet the needs of industry

The university-government-industry relationship in the provision of quality higher education has been explained in terms of what has been called the triple helix model. For starters, the triple helix model simply describes the interactions that exist or should exist among three entities – university, government and industry or private sector. In normal situations, this tripartite relationship produces amazing results.

Can journalism survive when we give away news for free?

In both Namibia and South Africa, the print media is under strain. In South Africa, the publishers of Bona, Rooi Rose and Your Family have closed, and media giants such as Naspers have announced the closure of magazines such as Men’s Health and Runner’s World, affecting over 1 000 jobs. Other venerable magazines such as Drum are now published in digital format only.


Opinion - Embrace your unique individuality

From time to time, one sits and pause to reflect on the type of world we live in. Watching the senseless killing of the African-American, (a black man) George Floyd at the hands of four white police officers while pleading for his life, gets you wondering how the collective mind can become so cold and inhumane? 

Opinion - Leadership and management in higher education - are they two sides of the same coin?

Some people in leadership and management positions in higher education institutions often grapple with what these two concepts and practices entail. Questions that often intrigue most leaders and managers are: “Is a leader necessarily a manager? Equally, is a manager also a leader?  Leadership and management as concepts of tertiary education management have succeeded in throwing some leaders and managers into sixes and sevens, with others realizing what the practices entail when their terms of office are drawing to the end, and others leaving their posts without any clue at all. 

Opinion - The church’s role in the struggle against empire and globalisation

Globalisation is the process of life that gives rise to the reality and tangibility of our relatedness and interrelatedness with all that exists. This reality of our relatedness is contradicted by contemporary world capitalisation that is perpetuating inequalities among nations. The problem is that postmodern empire and globalisation do not only mean interconnectedness of the world, but it simultaneously contributes to and expands neoliberal capitalism.

Weekly takeaway with Lawrence Kamwi - Reflecting on controls, restrictions, and adaptations(1)

Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi’s theme for Budget Day 2020, “together defeating Covid-19, together thriving again”, resonates beyond Namibia’s borders.  It is a call, indeed, a prayer that informs and shapes the entire world as it charts new directions following a public health emergency.   The current health situation has led to a loss of normality in daily life. 


Opinion - Mobile social media: Enhancing mobility of the digitally excluded population

Lately, we have seen exponential growth in the utilisation of social media platforms as communication and information dissemination tools by both the private and public sector organisations, as well as individuals. This is in line with the latest development, upgrade and updates in the global digital market that can allow organisations and even individuals to save costs in terms of transport, accommodation facilities and enhancing productivity or service provision. 

Smiles as school bells will ring and sirens wail again

The announcement this week of the re-opening of schools and return of learners in phases by the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture brought some relief to parents, learners and stakeholders. Soon after the press release to the media, social media platforms were awash with the verbatim release itself and comments, which all pointed to smiles and happiness about the announcement. Some parents, teachers and principals I talked to expressed delight at the news of the reopening of schools in phases. 


Commendable cuts in government spending

Even if it may have been effected belatedly, President Hage Geingob’s directive to put a ceiling on monthly fuel usage for top government officials, as well as withdrawing off-road vehicles assigned to political office bearers, will be long remembered as one of the most strategic moves in an attempt to rein in government spending which many believe have been way out of control for a foreseeable future.

Why teachers deserve hefty salaries

Where I grew up, a teacher was the best member of the community in many respects. A teacher had a descent homestead. Some owned small businesses or cars. Cars were a luxury at that time, and they were a rare possession. Also, we knew that it was only in teachers’ houses where people drank tea and ate buttered bread almost very day.

Universities must offer non-fixed contracts to retired professors

Retiring ages for professors from active teaching and research differ from university to university across the world. For some universities the mandatory retirement age is fixed at 60 years, for others at 65 or 70 years. It is normal practice in some universities that after any of the mandatory retirement age limits, universities professors are given one-year contracts which are renewable each year.

Searching for anecdotes of home-grown foreign policy

The revolutionary icon of Namibia’s fight against colonisation, Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi, demonstrated astuteness and foresight when he diplomatically engaged traditional chiefs and foreign colonial settlers for balance of power in the territory called Namibia today during the period starting from around 1880.

Covid-19 and women

Early signs are that the Covid-19 virus poses a greater direct health risk to men, and particularly older men.  But the pandemic is exposing and exploiting inequalities of all kinds, including gender inequality. 

Multi-dimensional health

Modern Western thinking about health has been dominated by the biomedical approach but there is much more to a person’s health than his physical health.  Health is multi-dimensional and is influenced by many factors. It must be noted that the health of a person can be directly affected by the following series of relationships; home life, the village, the nation, our ancestors, and our relationship with the earth. 

The models of climate change on marine ecosystems

Modelling is a necessary tool for assessing future impacts of climate change. A major comparative study Sarmiento simulated the effect of greenhouse gas emissions using six Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs) to examine which aspects of the models determine how ocean biology responds to climate.


Protect your peace

A big part of self-care and love is making sure that you protect your peace. Protecting your peace means maintaining a healthy environment for growth and guarding your state of mind at the same time.


Strong link required between public and private sector than ever

In the 21st century environment, the dynamics are about change. Change is perhaps the most predictable phenomenon and characteristic of human life. It is not just how organisations are managed that has been changing and will continue to change, the drivers of any management dynamics and the consequences of such change on human existence are themselves open to change. 


The voice of religions in times of coronavirus

We are all aware that religion has been seen and used throughout human history as an instrument or weapon of breaking down (as a tool of colonialism, oppression or suppression) or of breaking through (as a tool of liberation, transformation, reconciliation and healing). Today, the voice of religions in times of Covid-19 is that of healing and maintenance of healthy life and living conditions


Fear, panic and suspicion: The media and coronavirus

How the media frames an issue can and do have priming effects.  In other words, the media as it did at the onset of the HIV/Aids pandemic by framing it as the gay plague, as a death sentence once contracted etc, can promote a stigmatising attitude, widespread panic and fear resulting in people coming up with bizarre solutions like sleeping with babies, virgins and what have you that served to compound rather than solve the problem.


Notes on the coronavirus pandemic

Deadly pandemics and epidemics, caused by viruses and bacteria, are part of human history. Spectacular examples include: the Plague of Justinian during 541-542 (30-50 million deaths); Bubonic Plague/Black Death during 1347-1351 (200 million deaths); Smallpox in 1520 (56 million deaths); The Third Plague in 1855 (12 million deaths), and the Spanish Flu in 1918-1919 (40-50 million deaths). 

30 years of Namibian independence shrouded in deep secrecy 

On 21 March 2020, Namibia will clock 30 years of independence, shrouded in secrecy of torture and disappearances of many Namibians in Lubango dungeons of Angola. Many of the victims of this horrendous chapter in the Namibian liberation history were unfortunate for not accorded fair hearing and decent burials appropriate for heroes. Shockingly it has been a taboo to talk about those dark hours of the dungeons, as it would be opening old wounds.

While the Americans are building walls, the Chinese are building bridges

Walls and bridges represent different functional and symbolic meanings. Walls represent barriers and bridges stand for connection, opening and passage. Bridges are meant to connect people and places, whereas walls are meant to prevent/block entry by unwanted outsiders or even animals. The Berlin Wall was meant to separate the two former Germanys East and West because of the ideological divide of the time. 

Namibia rising above corona

The invisible coronavirus has reached Namibian shores after leaving a trail of devastation in China, Europe and the world at large. In Namibia, priority should be on protecting lives and saving our economy. The main emphasis should be on containing and mitigating the disease itself. President Geingob demonstrated decisive leadership on managing Covid-19 and this offers hope to control its impact.  

One country: Three nations

Now that we are celebrating 30 years of independence of our country it may be important to just briefly reflect on some issues of those years, particularly what still persistently and disturbingly are still haunting us.

Let’s celebrate expansion in our education system

Today, when the young and the born-free, those born after Namibia’s independence in 1990, enrol at schools and institutions of their choices, little does it come to their minds that it was not as easy as that during the years of colonialism and apartheid. Today, black and white students enrol for degree programmes such as medicine, law, engineering, humanities, social sciences, pure sciences and education at higher education institutions without segregation.  They do this at will depending on their passes at high school level.

Namibia unite against youth tribalism

Last week Saturday, large groups of manifestly one tribal youth sections upped the game by demanding the immediate stepping down of President Hage Geingob, in a tribal manner which left no doubt that they are a tribal grouping seeking the ouster of a democratically elected leader simply because he is not of their origin.

Are you a feminist?

Ideally, we are living in a time where awareness about gender equality is at the focal point of almost every debate. We are not short of ideas and institutions that advocate for the leverage of equality among human beings of all nature. In fact, a democratic country like Namibia is never a disgrace to its people especially women and human right remains its first priority. Meanwhile, the issue of feminism is still puzzling inquisitive minds, and we often reject being feminist consciously or unconsciously.  

Working definitions of disability

Grönvik, in his work on definition of disability in the social sciences displays a photograph of a body, with the person’s head and face cut off, in a wheelchair at the bottom of a flight of stairs, and then proceeds to explain that the photography could be seen to reflect no less than five conceptions of disability.

‘Rise, take your mat and walk’… Namibian women prayer for Zimbabwe a resounding success

March 7 2020 will go into the annals of the history of Zimbabwe as a special day when women all over the world prayed for the woes this beautiful southern African country is facing to come to an end. It was therefore befitting and in line for Namibian women to organize a prayer for Zimbabwe at the Lutheran Evangelical Church in Khomasdal, Windhoek last Saturday.

Are Namibian workers a class for itself?

We are grateful for the constructive response from Gerson Tjihenuna (‘A rejoinder to a joint piece by Whitaker, Boesak and Van Wyk’, New Era, 13 January 2020) to our article that appeared in the people’s paper (‘Namibia Post-Swapo’, The Namibian, 20 December 2019.


When mercy tempers justice, there is peace in our societies

At one point in our lives, we all experience trials and tribulations. These trials and tribulations might be because of our own shortcomings, some oversight on some legal technicalities, or simply trumped-up charges that will leave us at the mercy of justice. In some cases, sheer miscarriage of justice lends many people in trouble.

The synchronisation of societal priorities

When, in 1137, the Abbot Suger announced his plans to build a new choir for the Abbey church in St Dennis, France, and adorn it with gold, his long time friend, the Cistercian Abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux, criticized Suger’s taste for excessive opulence in these words:


The paradox of African democracy

The Greek scholar, Herodotus, coined the term democracy in the 5th B.C. from two words: ‘demos’, which means people and katejn, meaning rule or cratos, which in turn means authority. Many centuries later, Abraham Lincoln, the sixth president of the United States of America defined democracy as government of the people by the people and for the people. This implies that in a democracy, the people themselves must rule themselves. 


Where do we go from here?

The year 2019 was a noteworthy year. So many happenings, big and small, good and bad took place in the past year. The past is a critical component of any one or organisation’s being; allowing for retrospection to avoid hurdles of the past while seeing foundations already laid.

Opinion: Respect and care for the ecosystem

One of the core facets of our constitution can be surmised as “Everyone has the right (a) to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being, and (b) to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures.”

Opinion: Zambezi’s Developmental Ills

In a fully-packed stadium of Katima Mulilo in Zambezi region over the weekend of 15 November 2019, President Hage Geingob told the frenzied politically stereotyped crowd that the underdevelopment experienced in the Region was caused by Mishake Muyongo when he fled the region in 1998. As usual, without any analysis of the head of state’s words, the crowd went wild, jeering and cheering, baying for the self-imposed refugee’s blood.

Opinion: Are you being served?

From 1972 to 1985, television viewers enjoyed over sixty episodes of the hilarious situational comedy, Are You Being Served? It made fun of the misadventures of the staff of a retail floor of a major British department store.

Opinion: The benefits and joys of studying literature

At one workshop for English teachers, there was at first strong resistance from most participants when it was suggested that literature in English should be made a compulsory subject in all schools in Namibia as one of the ways of improving the English language proficiency of not only learners, but also the teachers themselves.

Opinion: Is it a fear of criticism, of failure, or both?

While negative thoughts are a natural (and irritating) occurrence, psychologist Lisa Firestone says we need to handle them with care: they can easily lead to debilitating distress. In particular, she warns against self-hatred or self-doubt. In their place, Firestone suggests a COAL attitude which translates to “curious, open, accepting and loving.”  

Opinion: NCRST journal breathes new life in scholarly communication in Namibia

Three years ago, when the National Commission on Research Science and Technology (NCRST) mooted the idea of a multidisciplinary academic journal, some critics never thought that such a proposal would yield any meaningful results. Others said it was a far-fetched idea which would fizzle or evaporate into thin air. But dedicated scholars from NCRST, the University of Namibia (Unam), the mother university, the Namibia University of Science and Technology (Nust) and the International University of Management (IUM), believed in the idea of the journal and took upon themselves the mammoth task of setting up structures, rules and regulations that have culminated in the first edition of the Namibia Journal for Research, Science and Technology that was launched last week in Windhoek.


ECN position represents legal positivism in practice

The Electoral Commission of Namibia as a custodian of election related matter in our Republic has taken a bold stand to enforce strict compliance of political parties to both statutory and constitutional provisions that require aspiring parliamentarians first to resign from their remunerated public office positions before accepting nominations as candidates of their respective parties.


Let’s not stoke the fires we cannot extinguish

Permit me to contribute to the shaping of this discussion on social cohesion in Namibia, a motion tabled by the Chief Whip of Swapo Party, Hon. Cde Taeyele. The motion asks if we are still united under the slogan, One Namibia, One Nation. I want to start my contribution with an affirmation of the unity that has made Namibia the nation that she is today.


Town hall meetings and accountability of political leaders

Accountability is a rare commodity in politics yet it is one of the cornerstones of good governance. President Hage Geingob has been criticised, perhaps harshly, in recent days about his current series of town hall meetings across the regions, because they are supposedly a plot to garner political ground ahead of this year’s general election.


U.S. Policy on Venezuela

The people of Venezuela are suffering from interlocking man-made political and economic crises that have transformed a once thriving and prosperous democracy into a country overridden by poverty, corruption, and repression.  

Is the immunity of the innocent being respected?

Ancient and modern history is replete with examples where peaceful diplomacy failed to end conflicts between nations. On many occasions, affected nations have thrown away what is called “hypocritical humility” and opted for deterrence theory.    My definition of deterrence theory is limited, for this column, to the belief that it is better to prevent than to engage in war. 


Implementing language policies in Southern Africa: A daunting task (Part 1)

The local press was recently awash with the news that the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture in Namibia wants to introduce a new language policy in schools. If legislators approve this language policy, it will compel primary schools to use the mother language as a medium of instruction from Grade 1 to Grade 3.  Although this is a commendable move, but is not without challenges. 

Mvula ya Nangolo: Tribute of a grieving son

Life is the process of self-sustaining and self-generating action. Life requires action, and action requires values.  And it is these values that define a man, Man's Life is his moral standard, Baba, Tatekulu Mvula Ya Nangolo, Was a man with values and a man with a moral standard.

The politics of us and them

It is unquestionable that we live in a time where we have unprecedented access to information. This reality brings with it the fact that we as citizens are caught up in a web of information and disinformation. Unfortunately, not all of us are always good at distinguishing between facts and “political spin”. 


Female technocrats: Rise or extinction?

This week’s suspension of Namibia Wildlife Resorts NWR)’ managing director Zelna Hengari has once more resuscitated the intense debate on whether women within SOEs and the public sector at large are punished harsher than their male counterparts - even if the offences are of the same nature.

A night in Aus

The reason for me to spend the night of the 13th April 2019 in Aus was for this year’s constituency independence celebrations. The place Aus is rich in history and started with Khoisan using the fountains in the area.


Trailing the chopsticks

Ni Hao! The Island Province of Hainan with its beautiful beach city of Sanya, was warm, a reality far from the weather in Beijing. It felt like home, Swakopmund to be precise, just slightly more humid.