Professor Jairos Kangira
As a big banner showing the words “One Namibian House” was displayed at the Independence Stadium on Saturday, 21 March 2019, during the celebrations of 29 years of the independence of Namibia, there was a huge ovation from every corner of the Stadium. The ovation signified the celebratory sensation and mood that gripped the crowd and dignitaries at this august ceremony that marked the day of the fall of apartheid, colonialism and imperialism in Namibia.
I witnessed the joy and the peace that exuded from the celebrations. I felt the same sensation running through my body and at once I told myself that this was what I was going to write about in my column this week. Yes, the culture of peace and One Namibian House or One Namibian House and the culture of peace – whichever way you want to say it, the difference is the same. The Harambee spirit and the “one direction” spirit could be felt echoing from the songs that entertained the crowd.
But what is a culture of peace? According to the United Nations General Assembly, a “Culture of Peace consists of values, attitudes and behaviors that reflect and inspire social interaction and sharing based on the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, all human rights, tolerance and solidarity, that reject violence and endeavour to prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation and that guarantee the full exercise of all rights and the means to participate fully in the development process of their society.” In sum, what is of essence is that His Excellency President Hage Geingob’s independence speech touched on these values as espoused by the United Nations General Assembly’s definition of a culture of peace.
Tracing Namibia’s independence celebrations backwards, in 2012 Jemima Hipondoka-Mungongi and I published an academic paper titled “Praiseworthy values in President Hifikepunye Pohamba’s epideictic speech marking Namibia’s 20th anniversary of independence.” The paper was well received by those who read it and gave us their comments. In 2014 Frieda Nanyeni wrote a Master of Arts in English thesis titled “Dr Sam Nujoma’s rhetoric: An analysis of selected epideictic speeches during his tenure of office as President of the Republic of Namibia.” Equally, Nanyeni’s thesis was well received. Do not be bogged down by the word ‘epideictic’; it is a rhetorical term which means ‘ceremonial’. Nanyeni was my rhetoric disciple since I was her thesis supervisor, and I am proud to mention that she took up rhetoric studies at doctoral level.
I refer to these two academic works because I found them striking that in their speeches both leaders used carefully chosen words and phrases that promoted non-violence, nation building, democracy, peace, unity, dignity, accountability, transparency, honesty, patriotism, tolerance and the rule of law in a nation of diverse cultures. In their efforts to build a culture of peace in Namibia, the Founding Father His excellency Dr Sam Nujoma and the former President His Excellency Dr Hifikipunye Pohamba displayed justice, temperance, magnanimity, liberality, gentleness, prudence and wisdom - values that contributed to the development of culture of peace in a nation that was ravaged by the evils of apartheid that put different peoples and cultures asunder as a divide-and-rule strategy of the white supremacist colonialists.
The leaders cited the evils of tribalism, regionalism, nepotism, ethnicity, racial discrimination, sexism and corruption as opposites or antitheses of peace, security and stability, and transparency, accountability, honesty and dignity. The above vices are impediments of the culture of peace and non-violence. They were strongly condemned as they were counter-productive.
As already stated above, listening to His Excellency President Dr Hage Geingob’s independence speech on Saturday, I discerned the same spirit of promoting a culture of peace and building a democratic culture in the Land of the Brave. His speech resonated all the values that his predecessors promoted and championed. The values are buoyed and supported by the Harambee Prosperity Plan with the mantra “no one will be left out in the Namibian House.” In President Geingob’s speech, I saw a vivid conviction of building a democratic country - an African Athens – following the most supreme law of the land, the Constitution. Talk of Athens, the capital of Greece; this is where democracy was first practised.
As we celebrate this culture of peace, let us remember the gallant sons and daughters who fought for the liberation of this beautiful nation. Let us pay tribute to SWAPO Party and its leaders for the roles they played during the war of liberation and after the attainment of independence. Let us remember those who died while fighting for the independence of this country – our heroes and heroines.
Above all, remember “One Namibia, One Nation.” Unity, Unity, Unity!
Professor Jairos Kangira is the Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Namibia. He writes on his own accord. Email address: email@example.com