President Hage Geingob raised quite a few eyebrows when he conferred national hero status on late Kunene governor Angelika Muharukua. But listening to his keynote address at Muharukua’s memorial service on Wednesday, it was easy to see why Muharukua was a genuine contender for such bestowment. Webster’s Dictionary defines a hero as “one that is much admired or shows great courage.” Therefore, to suggest that Muharukua was not admired by the constituency that she represented, or that she lacked courage, would be dishonesty on a massive scale. Perhaps Namibia has set a bad precedent that the status of hero should be confined to champions of armed wars that freed Namibia from the yoke of colonialism. Without question, we have countless heroes and heroines in that space but wars alone are not the only factory that manufactures heroes. But to think one must have carried a bazooka and ransacked the enemy’s territory to qualify for a hero’s status is a narrow outlook on the dynamics of life and what makes society tick. There are heroes who sacrifice their lives to save the world. But there are those whose dedication to other endeavours manage to touch the lives of others. Muharukua comes from a part of the country where the colonial regime had brainwashed all and sundry into believing it was here to save Namibians from Swapo ‘terrorism’. A huge contingent of the men and women currently camping in Katutura – former SWATF and Koevoet members who are demanding payouts from government – hail from the same area as Muharukua. When her neighbours, friends and peers were joining the colonial armed forces en masse, for a pay cheque, Muharukua was one of the steadfast sons and daughters of Kunene who defied not only the temptation but also the forceful requirement to join those evil forces. She refused to ‘sell out’ her country to the enemy, even when she had full knowledge of the consequences of her defiance, including the glaring risk of getting killed. President Geingob chronicled her role in freeing Namibia, so we would not reprint that here. Bottom line is, heroes also come in small packages, shapes and sizes. Former President Sam Nujoma, who brought Muharukua into mainstream politics in the mid-2000s, is a shrewd politician who knew exactly what he was doing at the time. Nujoma recognised, just like Geingob in 2015, that speaking fluent English isn’t the measurement of intelligence or the ability to get things done. One could simply communicate in Zemba and get tasks completed. When those with high academic qualifications from London and New York universities were stone-silent during parliamentary sessions, it was the Muharukuas of this world who kept those sessions alive. This is in recognition of the mandate given to MPs to speak for those that elected them – and not sleep in the chambers as is often the common sight in our parliament. Society must start appreciating these seemingly unsophisticated aspects of life and make broader sense of them if we want to appreciate fully the contributions of each one of us to humanity. Muharukua never wavered. She never sold out. Her limited English proficiency never deterred her from speaking truth to power. She persevered. She is not dead. She is a survivor who simply migrated to another space where life is eternal. She is a Namibian hero whose deeds are indelible.
2017-10-20 09:57:41 11 months ago