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Opinion - A letter from the office of citizenship

2021-10-01  Staff Reporter

Opinion - A letter from the office of citizenship
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For a couple of weeks, I have been struggling to write this piece, as I have been rehearsing in my mind not to start trouble. 

As a child of God, I am one to recite “It is well with my soul” until I turned on Eagle FM, “Lord have mercy”. 

That radio station has the ability to turn my happiness in pure anger because of the commentary and views of their listeners who tend to throw in comments such as “A rape case among children is a normal thing because children play”, “The issues of housing in Namibia can’t be solved because even if you build them, no one will buy them”, or “Ondangwa is a small town; it can’t be compared to Windhoek – even the allocation from central government is not the same”.

Those were just some of the commentary contributions that were made in September that broke the camel’s back and drove me to pour out my thoughts as a Namibian citizen, and say, “Dear Namibian, can we all stop living in glass houses, sipping on a cup of tea, swiping up and down on our iPhone 13 and uploading filtered snapshots”.

Because enough is enough with the negativity and the spirit of ignorance and oblivionism while the whole country is burning up with social issues that need our voices and actions but give it a side eye, shift blames and point fingers because we don’t want to be the enemy of the state but be people pleasers, clapping our hands and watching our bank account go up; we are good as long as it is not hitting home. 

The year 2021 has been brutal on everyone. We started the year with Air Namibia closing its door, adding to the long list of unemployment and families around the country being plugged back into the cycle of poverty.

 With multiple lockdowns and the economy buckling under-pressure, some chose to go in the street, despite it all because hunger will kill them. 

As fear, anxiety and death consumed us, I sat on the plane, destined for Ondangwa. I am not one to come home in August and September because it is always dusty and windy with no tree in sight; the whole town became a ghost town. But this year, I chose me to come back home and sit down for a deep retrospection and introspection on my core value as a human being.  

As I began my drive home in my uncle’s Beetle car, I cannot realise how, for the past two decades of my existence, Ondangwa has become an eyesore, a sight you want to pass and never come back to or something from a horror movie or a dream you want to wake up from. 

 That will apply to the travellers – but for some of us, Ondangwa is home. “We did not choose the problem but we were born into it; now, it’s our problem,” Chude Jideonwo. 

The town has been belittled to nothing but a small town with a failed town planning structure and majority of land located near the B1 road being occupied by sheebens and bottle stores. 

I cannot help but wonder “what do the youth do?” 

As we drove further inland, my question was answered, as I saw some of my age mates hustling by selling cellphone accessories and “uumuhaka” at major malls, but I observe a majority of them at this alcohol drinking hub – and my heart sank. 

One will wonder, is this a community of innovators and committed citizens or that of drunkards? There is a saying: “Kehe Omukwaniilongo omOndonga endela”; if such a saying is true, I wonder the image and the narrative that currently exists in those who have been to the town? 

With a population of approximately 36 846, according to the 2011 regional census, the town is dominated by the 15-59 age group, which holds 63% of the total population, with no social responsibilities being displayed by the giant retailers into the community, where trade takes place, majority of the development is reliant heavily on central government. 

This brought a stagnant growth that went from bad to worse due to a shaky, unstable economical environment, natural disaster and other human doings. 

Being located in flood plains, Ondangwa unkempt and almost neglected environment rooms, with elect buildings – some kept intact and others almost falling apart – take centre stage. 

As we turned into a short gravel road on our way home, we were met by a new military base, which took away hundreds of homes to relocate them into the desert and my heart sank, as I wondered why would you put a military camp in the middle of a community; why did you not take it to Uulunga waKolondo because you will be saving a lot of money from transportation of military personnel.

As I gazed to my left hand side, I realised Ondangwa urban is now flooding; it is an expansion of the rural areas, where any form of agriculture is now soon to be of extinction. 

Out loud with no filter, I asked the famous questions of Mee Sofia Shaningwa: “This towns and development we are building, where are they going to end?” Are we going to turn the whole of Namibia into towns? Are we not going to have agricultural land for crops cultivation and animals grazing? 

It almost puzzles me as young person how we are invested on the internet and travelling to other countries – and not even realising it is actually possible to bring development (education, health and transportation) without destroying the majority of its fundamental living standards. 

When are we going to capitalise on farming commercially in the communal land, instead of investing it all in erven, because we all know a majority of our food here is imported from South Africa and other SADC countries? 

Yet, we act surprised when we see 1kg of Macaroni costing N$98.00, competing with a cement bag. 

As I sat down listening to Kati FM from the compound of my late father, I watched my nephew return from school and I wonder the world he will live in, the education he will be receiving and the skills he will harness when it’s all said and done. 

Chills went down my spine because it does not looking bright currently. I did not write this piece for interrogatory purposes nor to look down on progress made or whine like an ungrateful born free who thinks she can do better than the rest. 

I wrote to start a conversation, to awaken sleeping giants and for deep thinking tanks to put their caps on and be somewhere when the African Continental Free Trade is implemented. 

It is for all of us to see the bigger picture in a legacy format and leave the future generation with something to stand on because we did not fail them as we have failed ourselves. 

 Ondangwa has lost more than it had gained in the past decades. Although we have not been publicly dragged on the front pages of newspapers, it doesn’t mean it is all Colgate smiles. They say, ‘fear those silent ones; they will shock you one day’. 

But until then, I refuse to bring my kids and grandchildren into such an environment without excising my democratic freedom of speech and voting.

 I am not an activist; I am just a citizen of Namibia with major concerns.

2021-10-01  Staff Reporter

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