• August 12th, 2020

Letter - Have we lost touch with our Ubuntu?

As Africans, we have always known the term solidarity long before the arrival of our coloniser who came and taught it back to us the hard way. I thus do not see any better person to re-teach it to us again, than ourselves. I recently attended a funeral of my granny in the north of the country. She was paralysed, and could not walk or talk for the past seven solid years. During these times, she spent her time helplessly with my aunt in the village. At her funeral, we the youths agreed to gather funds and bury her remains as it is a norm nowadays. After final contributions and calculations, we gathered about N$50 000 in a single seating. Another N$20 000 was raised again to cover refreshment, as the rest of the first collection went towards the coffin, headstone and service. She was bought a state-of-the-art casket, and we ferried her remains in a state-of-the-art vehicle at demands, as a way to pay our last respect and homage to her soul. Of course, the majority of the relatives who made contributions and service order were youthful than me. They had posh jobs, and lived a better life, than her. 

 What is perturbing is that during her long illness, my granny has been bedridden. She could not walk and needed someone to care for her in her last days. Taking her to the hospital for follow up was a menace. The few relatives who stay in the north and had jobs were the only one who put cents together and bought her a wheelchair. She had more than 40 grandchildren, who mostly work, and earn a good salary.

 My concern is, what I have described in this opinion letter is common nowadays, especially in northern Namibia. We have become a nation that only shows solidarity and gratefulness in death. A relative can live a pauper life, yet they have well-off employed cousins, aunts, and grandchildren if not their children. Gone were the days we would care for someone that just passed by (travellers), the neighbour and even foreigners without demanding payments. What happened to the young caring for the elderly? What happened to kahuxwena hadela nyoko? directly translated as the chick fends for the hen? To Africanise this, what happened to Ubuntu? “I am because we are” or “humanity towards others”, “umntu ngumntu ngabantu”. The term is used in a more philosophical sense to mean «the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. Have we lost that? We have lowered ourselves to only care for us and not others. We have reduced ourselves to sending our orphans in societies to foster homes and our elderly to old age homes. Is that what we have degenerated into, from the old long belief of ubuntu? Western, European and Asian have kept their traditions and practice intact for ages. We the unstable generation have retorted to adopting other cultures, for we feel insecure about our very own. We need to rethink our way of doing things. We need to revisit our bond with cultures. We can change other things, but humanity shall remain. Caring and showing solidarity to others shall remain. Showing one’s value and gratitude shall happen in life, and not during their death times. These elderlies we care less for today, have given us life, our parents, and they bond with us will remain till death. We cannot afford to detach ourselves from their blood bond, let alone their culture and way of life. We need to show them love while there are here, or else they will turn and toss in their graves, and they will never rest in peace. We need to adopt a way where we appreciate and celebrate their lives while they are alive to give us their blessing and appreciations in person. Behind the grave lies no return to this very life but the eternal life, where none have gone and returned from, to thank us for the deed we made at their burials. We are shaking off our blessing form them by so doing. Let’s learn to help, care and fend for our beloved ones while alive. Let’s not only show that we care in death by making endless contributions. Let’s help while our loved ones are alive, in hospitals by paying their bills, buying them food, clothing and all they need, for humanity is bigger than death.

Staff Reporter
2020-06-19 10:47:52 | 1 months ago

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