• September 20th, 2018
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Katutura, a community in decline


Don Helda Camara, a Brazilian revolutionary clergy, used to say in the face of criticism by authoritarian regimes in his part of the world: “When I feed the hungry they call me Saint, when I ask why the poor have no food, they call me Communist”. The opening paragraph in the introduction to my recently published book ‘Timeless Bonds’ is a quotation from Conrad Lynn, a civil rights attorney of note, who spent his adult life campaigning for racial equality and justice in the United States of America. Namibia faces challenges characterised by change with continuity and in this dynamic process; we keep losing reliable advocates for the plight and anguish of the educationally and economically deprived. What happened to the liberating church, the labour movement, the youth and women’s organisations of the past? This takes me back to the introduction pages of my book ‘Timeless Bonds’, where I say, “Often we assume facts but not in evidence that our audiences are conversant with what we discuss in public. My son was born on 27th April 1989. This was exactly nine days after the arrival of the Swapo advance team (headed by Hage Geingob) that returned from Angola to kick-start the election campaign for the party. Today he is 27 years old and a medical practitioner. This generation cannot be relied upon to know it all, given the free-to-choose environment in which they grew up in, unlike pre-independence generations who felt the obligation to necessarily participate in the struggle for justice in the interest of the common good. But the converse is also true that, this is the generation that we shall have to prepare to palm the future of this nation in relation to nations of the world. This reality demands that we must be concerted, strategic and diligent in the art of sharing information with one another, nationally and internationally. What do all these citations have to do with the decline of Katutura? These challenges constitute the larger puzzle in our society and it is not a matter of what comes first between the chicken and the egg, because the egg is in the chicken and the chicken is in the egg. Katutura is a mess with regard to national development because the past continues to haunt the present and this bedevils the future. During the Apartheid era the best services in Windhoek were reserved for the city’s metropolis and this trend has continued. Go to Maerua Mall and then visit Woermann Brock or Black Chain complex in Katutura, see the pavements and what happens there. They resemble the old colonial Katutura. Walk through town on a Monday morning and observe the tidiness on the streets, on pavements and in parking lots, they all resemble a city with overnight cleaners. Then walk through Katutura on the same day and time, you will find litter for Africa lying all over the place as if someone was paid to litter overnight. And observe the street cleaners: In front of the French Bank Centre in town they clean with passion and they check, recheck and check again. In front of the Black Chain complex there are no cleaning services. Papers, banana drops et al, lie in the driveways and pavements are so dirty that one has to inspect their shoes underneath before entering into a car. Observe the street cleaners in Katutura and Soweto, the latter is where I reside. The broom runs over the street as if on a lightning mission to some place. In Katutura and the outlying growth points such as Okahandja Park, Sonderwater, Goreangab Dam, Silver Town and others, connecting rivulets flow 24/7 filled with green water that smells such that one is tempted to inspect these for floating human bodies from some place. Walk in Katutura on a Tuesday morning at nine and you will find children aged 16 to 19 sitting at street corners, sipping at some bottle contents and smoking in a chain. You will find adults in hundreds walking aimlessly on a forced march to nowhere. This is Katutura of today, 29 years after independence. Welcome to Namibia because you find the same situation in Epako, Orwetoveni, Nomtsoub, Ozohambo za Kuaima, Block E, Kuisebmund; Tsaiblaagte. Our areas of population density and growth point settlements yearn for better, and as the economic situation around the country continues to defy wisdom, people stream to cities, towns and village settlements in large numbers that these places cannot handle. In this way Albert Einstein is right: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. Equally, Goran Hiden is right: “Turning the despair and pessimism that affect large sectors of the African people into hope and optimism, will require from the planners of African development to re-inspect the premises upon which they have based their planning to date. No one escapes this challenge; there are no shortcuts to progress.” The choice is ours and nothing will improve until we decide.
2018-01-31 09:43:01 7 months ago
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