• September 23rd, 2020

Opinion - Namibia’s forgotten second citizens

In his poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, Winfred Owen questions whether it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. His question arises from a battle during the First World War that ensued, in which his comrade-at-arms helplessly drowned in gas and later his corpse unceremoniously tossed at the back of the truck. 

Similarly, many Namibians today question whether it was worthwhile for their relatives and even themselves sacrificing their lives for the liberation of Namibia. The reason is that after 30 years of independence, they still wallow in abject poverty and remain desperate in a country with abundant resources in the hands of the few. The forgotten heroes and heroines watch with disgust at the widening gap between the rich and themselves. Although there are cases of second Namibians and economically marginalised the following could qualify in topping the class:

Spouses and children of the 1960s torture victims
It is disturbing to note that the spouses and the children of these freedom fighters are still applying and their applications for veteran status declined. These freedom fighters experienced the brunt of the liberation struggle and died during their imprisonment because they publicly and fearlessly expressed their political convictions There are the relatives of the freedom fighters whose lives were put on the line and sacrificed in some cases roasted over the fire and their hands amputated. It is quite strange that this category of victims is not given the same status as the children of the liberation struggle.

Student activists
At the peak of the liberation struggle, many students had to risk their lives to try and force the racist South African regime to abolish Bantu Education and Afrikaans as a medium of instruction. Some of these students were severely beaten and others detained. Some of these students had to have their studies abandoned and in some cases were forced to skip the country because their lives were in danger. Many of these students have not benefited from the veteran purse.

Those who refused to waver
Despite torture inflicted on them, there are Namibians who stood up to the colonial and racist regime of South Africa. Some of them were electrocuted and in the process lost their manhood, yet veteran benefits to them remain an illusion, while the rulers are filling their purses from this money.

The owners of the razed down houses and stockades
Casspirs driven by racist South African soldiers razed and destroyed houses and cattle kraals of many Namibians who supported PLAN fighters. Many of these victims had their hopes dashed during the thirty years of Independence after realising that their sacrifices were in vain.

Graduates from Pretoria Prison
Many Namibians were incarcerated in Pretoria and at Robben Island for supporting and feeding PLAN fighters. These prisoners were held under inhumane conditions and in most cases were physically and psychologically harassed and tortured. Some of them lost their teeth and some parts of their bodies, yet the veteran purse has not compensated many. It is saddening to say that some of these victims went to their graves without getting a cent from the veteran monies.

Chixhu-Kongola-Sesheke-Sikaunga-Singalamwe group
This group sacrificed a lot because the Boers terrorized, tortured and killed them because they were suspected to support freedom fighters. Entire villages of Kongola, Kalubi, Sesheke, Singalamwe and Chixhu, fled into Zambia and sojourned there for many years. This group was the first to open a Swapo primary school in Zambia. Sadly, the majority of these victims are invisible in the current echelons of power.

The police officers and civil servants
These victims supported the liberation struggle and many times, ended up either being threatened with expulsion or fired. They were forced to serve the racist government of the day against their will. With independence euphoria, these gallant soldiers of the liberation struggle were simply forgotten and it became business as usual.

Those who fell at the battlefield
After 30 years of independence, Namibia has failed dismally to honour those gallant fighters who made it possible for us to achieve Independence and nationhood. The relatives of these heroes and heroines have been waiting either to hear what happened to their loved ones or to expect to receive some tokens of appreciation for their loved ones who never returned. Yet the powers that be continue promising to attend to this issue that was supposed to top all priorities.

Committed to work but belonging to the wrong group
It is an open secret that some Namibians are more equal than others despite possessing the same educational qualifications. Some positions are reserved for the other groups, despite the fact that the incumbent cannot perform. At institutions like Unam and NUST, you need to belong to a certain group or cabal to occupy certain positions. Those from other groups not favoured by the power- that- behold those positions under Damocles’ sword.
What is being observed now is that those who were dancing and dining with the oppressors are wallowing in ill-gotten wealth at the expense of the downtrodden. It is still the struggle aluta continua to them because they have not seen the dawn of Independence. It is not yet Uhuru!

Staff Reporter
2020-08-07 10:46:24 | 1 months ago

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