The central theme in George Orwell’s novel ‘Animal Farm’ revolves around the notion that while all animals are proclaimed to be equal, there exists a stark inequality with some being more equal than others.
Serving as an allegory for the events leading up to the Russian Revolution and the early Soviet Union years, the phrase “some animals are more equal than others” explicitly exposes the hypocrisy and corruption entrenched within the ruling class.
Following the overthrow of the human owner, Mr. Jones, the pigs assume control of the farm in the novel. Initially advocating for the principles of Animalism, which are rooted in notions of equality and shared benefits of labour for all animals, the pigs gradually exploit their intelligence and leadership positions to rationalise their own privileges and subjugate the other animals.
The introduction of the phrase “some animals are more equal than others” occurs when the pigs modify the farm’s commandments to align with their self-interests. The original decree, “All animals are equal”, undergoes a transformation into “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. This alteration serves to justify the pigs’ choices to reside in the farmhouse, don clothing, and engage in trade with human actions that flagrantly contradict the foundational principles of animalism.
Well, before I throw you off with George Orwell’s novel, and leave you wondering as to what this writing is all about, let me untangle you. In our country the “land of the braves” this narrative can be applied in many ways, political, social, and even economic.
However, it is more appealing to the power struggle we often observe in the political arena, and it is synonymous with how we successfully retained our independence from colonial powers, only for us to do what they have been doing to us. Which we opposed, fought against, and even worse neglected our very own people whom we fought alongside.
As a proud and caring resident of the mighty and vast Oshikoto region, I am concerned about our daily way of life, and the suffering we endure, 33-year post-independence. Although a revolt is what many think we shall opt for, I am not penning this piece to advocate for that as in ‘Animal Farm’, I am here to call for a listening ear that can change the order of days.
I am writing on behalf of my fellow indigent people of the mighty Oshikoto region.
The people whose fate is hanging in balance today, and whose celebration of the fruit of independence and freedom from poverty is yet to come, let alone the commemoration of Heroes Day. We have so much poverty, and lack of development to mourn about in Namibia, that we have grown to live with it.
Oshikoto is one of the vast regions in Namibia, not only vast but populated as well, and with deep sand, and difficult terrain. The challenges in this region are numerous, but their effects on life are catastrophic and demeaning. The region is faced with a lack of water. The water supplied by NamWater does not reach all areas, mostly Oshikoto East, the area of Okankolo, Eengodi, Omuthiya, Onyaanya partly, Omuntele, and worst the new constituency of Nehale lyaMpingana. Other than that, the region lacks proper road network. The only roads we have are the mighty B1 road that passes through to Ondangwa, the Onethindi-Eenhana road, the Onathinge-Okankolo road, then the Tsumeb-Tsintsabis one, that are of bitumen standards.
It was a blessing that we managed to get a few gravel roads, such as the Onyati-Elambo-Onkumbula, the Engoyi-Omuntele, Onanke, and Omuthiya gravel. We also have the Okankolo-Onyuulaye gravel road, plus the one from Okankolo to Uushake into the Ohangwena region, as well as the gravel from Onethindi, Oshali that heads towards Etosha west of the B1 road. As a resident of the region, I have travelled the depth and breadth of the region, and I can tell you we live in abject poverty, when it comes to proper road networks.
On these gravel roads, many lives have been lost, both the young and the old. People have lost their lives on the way to hospitals, due to these bad roads, and some due to accidents that are prone to gravel roads.
People have lost their properties in the forms of cars, due to various breakdowns, caused by bad roads. Business is bad, as delivery of service and stock to businesses in these far-flung areas is a menace, as tracks get stuck along the road as they are sandier than gravel.
Just this year, a truck or two were stuck on the very gravel between Onyati and Onyuulaye at a village called Omulingi while en route to deliver maize blend to schools in Onyuulaye Circuit. This is said to be the second time the same truck has gotten stuck, previously it was stuck between Okankolo and Onyuulaye, while on a similar mission. You would wish to blame the driver off-course, but “once beaten, shy twice”, thus the driver has tried to change the course this time, only to face the same fate.
This year, the Roads Authority has made an announcement to re-gravel the gravel road between Onyati and Onkumbula, probably as a new police station was recently inaugurated at Onkumbula.
Yet, looking at the inception of this gravel, which was built in 1996, it is not worthy of re-gravel, and I think it has matured enough to be upgraded to bitumen standards.
We have schools, hospitals, and clinics in this area, some fixed, while others mobile.
Ambulances transport patient along these gravel roads, and their conditions, have become decisive factors between life and death.
Imagine a police van transporting inmates along gravel as bad as this; imagine it breaking down, with dangerous criminals onboard. Imagine school children that are transported on open pick-ups, full to capacity on a gravel to school, imagine the danger that comes with it.
A grader is used to rehabilitate the road maybe once in two months, how much money is spent on it monthly? How much money will go toward re-gravelling? We need a lasting solution to our gravels in Oshikoto, and the time is now for justice to be done. Engoyi-Omuntele road was constructed somewhere in 2000, and an announcement has already been made that it will be upgraded to bitumen standards this year. What criteria was used to determine whether it qualifies for upgrading to bitumen standard, that other old gravel have not met? Are some animals more equal than others? It is as if decisions to upgrade roads are made by looking at who is from an area, if this is not the case, then all people deserve to get equal services provided by the same government.
I, therefore, would like to call upon the Roads Authority to reconsider the re-gravelling approach to Onyati-Onkumbula road; instead, they should tar the road up to wherever the value of the re-gravelling budget will end. It will at least bring the much-anticipated permanent solution dream closer to realisation, and it will bring about the much need change we yearn around here.
It is Karl Marx the communist wishes that all animals be equalised, and our country’s liberators had a similar dream to equalise us all, let their wishes be granted while they can see the fruit of their toil, let the people enjoy equally the fruit of independence.
*Salomo Ndeyamunye Ndeshimona is a social-activist from Oshikoto region.