To start, the number of Namibians killed by the Botswana Defence Force (BDF) soldiers in what seems to be a ‘shoot-to-kill’ approach is excessive and outrageous. In fact, one life lost is one too many for a small country like Namibia. Every life lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend, neighbour or breadwinner. On that note, allow me to pay respect to the three slain Nchindo brothers (Wamunyima, Martin and Tommy), their mother Alphonsina, who died shortly after their deaths because the pain was too much to bear, and their cousin Sinvula Munyeme. Certainly, there are long lasting effects on families who lose loved ones. Every death is a tragedy, and we acknowledge the grief and the pain of the family that lost them.
But the volatile chaos that erupted in the Zambezi region against the people of Botswana is rather misplaced and detrimental. Much lucid, the throwing of stones at trucks seemingly from Botswana doesn’t justify a thing, but births hate and fear among the two countries. In fact, two wrongs don’t make a right. To make the matter worse, there have been echoes from Namibians claiming that the Namibian government is ‘timid, weak and useless’ due to the way it has handled the matter. Of course not! What could violence for violence solve? Nothing of course. In the words of Gandhi, ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.’ The two nations should let the dust settle in an amicable and civilized manner not only for now but for eternity, if need be. However, the reportedly 37 lives lost since 1990 shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Also, the repercussion of the Zambezi saga shouldn’t lead to tribalism amongst Namibians. There have been voices reverberating on radios and in everyday conversation claiming that the government would’ve reacted differently if the victims were from a certain tribe. At this point, that is gibberish and unnecessary.
It is also disappointing to see politicians flock to Impalila Island and Kasika village as a scheme to boost their political campaigns but lack profound sympathy and empathy. They weep crocodile tears with no humility and humanity. One shouldn’t use someone’s death as a trump card for their individual and political glory and dominate the scene because of the resources they have.
To be sincere, if the people in power are not happy with the quotidian lifestyle at Impalila Island then they must change it, and by so doing, their leadership first must be profound and out of love as in Matthew 22:39, ‘love your neighbour as yourself.’ One, though, shouldn’t overlook the government’s effort that was made in assisting the bereaved family during the gloomy period. The government rendered in-kind assistance to the family, including coffins, basic food parcels, game meat and counselling services which was of importance to the bereaved family and friends.
Lastly, deaths such as these should unite us and show us how vulnerable we are as humans. It should raise the government’s effort to ameliorate the standards of people who depend on fish for survival and those that are living in dire conditions. Ultimately, it should unite the community in which we live to see each other as brothers and sisters who care and protect one another. To conclude, we must be mindful of Martin Luther King Jr.’s quote, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”