Namibia is still basking in the glow of our athletes who have performed so heroically at the Olympics and the Paralympic Games.
We have truly put Namibia on the sporting map as a force to be reckoned with.
It was not just Christine Mboma and Beatrice Masilingi who made us proud; the Paralympians, who have recently returned from the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, have shown what we, as Namibians, are capable of.
From Ananias Shikongo, Johannes Nambala and Sem Shimanda to Johanna Benson, who has been winning on our behalf for many years, we, as a nation, are proud of their sport achievements.
This got me thinking, why do these sporting achievements not resonate in our daily lives.
Where are these athletes in the workplace; how do they manage their jobs and careers on a day-to-day basis? Why do people with disabilities seem like they are not part of the majority of daily life or in the most workforce?
This question raises many concerns – and unless they are addressed, we, as a nation, will never fulfil our promise and capability – and certainly never achieve Vision 2030 and the UN SDGs.
We cannot celebrate our para-athletes one day and then the next not allow them to shine in the career they want to pursue, simply because there is no wheelchair access, or because there are no facilities for persons with disabilities of any kind, no computer or online access for the visually impaired or the sign language interpreters for the deaf community.
With more than 100 000 Namibians with various types of disabilities, it is a very large chunk of the population to ignore.
If we look at the UN SDGs drivers and the principle of ‘Leave No One Behind (LNOB)’, we need to create equal opportunities for everyone.
The three UN SDGs that focus on this are: No Poverty, Decent work and economic growth, and Reduced inequalities.
We need to address these goals and ensure we can create an inclusive society that drives our economy, and which embraces everyone and their differences to become a part of it.
If we are all pulling in different directions – not approaching to achieve the ambitious goals Namibia has set for itself together, we are bound to fail.
Just like the Paralympians use guides in the running races and other sports, working as a team, so do we need to internalise and live and breathe the concept of working together towards the same goal.
The coaches, staff and the families of the athletes and our sporting heroes all form a team that together created a winning combination.
If we apply this mentality, attitude and driving force to perform and achieve the UN SDGs, our Vision 2030 and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we will truly be on the road to success.
It is vital that various disability institutions, such as the National Disability Council of Namibia, Disability Sport Namibia, and the National Federation of People with Disabilities in Namibia are funded adequately to excel in their goals.
Namibia is full of pride at the moment; the athletes and the public are feeling on top of the world.
However, to capture this ‘positive vibe’ and bottle our success, we need to face challenges head-on.
If we do not allow people to participate and contribute to the economy, we are destined to never achieving our goals.
If LNOB is not something that Namibians live and breathe, we will never aspire and achieve the greatness that our athletes have achieved.
We should be united in our goals, achievements celebrated collectively, and our failures brushed off and forgotten together as a nation.
Only through perseverance can we achieve enduring success and growth as a nation and win as a team!