America, or more specifically the United States, is usually called the land of great opportunity. Those who capitalise on the big opportunities provided in the United States are said to be living the American dream. The rest of the world has heard of popular American names like Capitol Hill, Wall Street, Hollywood, Silicon Valley, etc., and it is especially in those types of places that the American dream is built and most notably realised.
Notwithstanding the fact that in all of its fame and glory the American dream too has its shortcomings and limitations, this article is not primarily aimed at discussing that dream but is rather focused at trying to define and understand a more or less similar form of a dream, namely the Namibian dream. What exactly is the Namibian dream? How is the Namibian dream supposed to be built and realised? Who specifically is living the Namibian dream?
To answer these imposing questions, a brief history leading up to the dawn of national independence is a fair place to start. The majority of the Namibian people were greatly disadvantaged by a colonial system that was based on unpopular Apartheid policies such as ethnic segregation, the Bantu education system and the contract labour system. These discriminatory practices were eventually defeated and a new national flag was proudly hoisted in 1990. Endowed with vast natural resources and a population numbering, not more than three million people, one would suppose and expect that almost all people in the country are at least able to sustain the basics of a decent lifestyle, i.e. decent incomes, decent housing, etc.
That, however, does not seem to be the case. The sprawling structures made of corrugated iron, wood and other simple materials at the peripheries of urban towns and the capital city are an eyesore for curious observers. The living conditions in those places do not begin to define the Namibian dream by any reasonable standards. Situated just a safe distance away on the opposite side of these so-called “informal settlements” are fancy neighbourhoods comprised of mansions with pretty gardens in the vicinity of usually big and luxurious shopping malls.
This state of affairs is a direct manifestation of high-income inequality. Pinpointing the causes of these huge imbalances in income is not rocket science. Those who found themselves on the right side of opportunities and capitalism, especially way before and immediately after independence, seem to have captured virtually every good business opportunity in the economy, and these are the people who now appear to be living the Namibian dream, whether it is deservedly so or otherwise, they probably know themselves.
Word of advice to these compatriots, the hungry masses out there are angry due to the persistent lack of economic opportunities, and that anger is being politically exploited at the expense of some well-established political formations. The last elections appear to attest to that theory. Now that the world has practically become a highly interconnected place, crucial information is now able to travel at the speed of light among the population and, hence, the fourth industrial revolution is surely moving in swiftly, accompanied by all sorts of positive and negative implications.
These technological advancements are bound to define the near future in unprecedented ways. In other words, with the exception of probably some of the older generations and a few other people who are living deep in the rural villages, every other Namibian probably has access to a smartphone which they can competently operate. The Constitution, for instance, is a document which is readily available online and, thus, people can instantly download it and understand their rights as citizens and how those rights tie into the wider international system of democratic governance and accountability. In many countries, people suspect unfairness in the socio-economic setup, and this is questioned, unequivocally. It is the class struggles postulated by Karl Marx all over again, but this time around the intricacies appear to be clearly well understood by all involved. In the case of Namibia, what has become glaringly obvious is that most people have now come to dream of a better country, as there is always room for improvement.
A Namibia in which the factors of production, especially land, are more accessible to those who seriously plan to farm commercially. A Namibia in which the proceeds from national resources are seen to be optimally employed in national development. A Namibia in which it is not generally perceived that government tender opportunities, fishing rights, mineral rights, etc. are only seemingly reserved for the “lucky” few. A Namibia in which the inequalities are viewed as not widely spread.
A Namibia that is seen as very considerate of its children, i.e. education under a tree does not start to define the Namibian dream. In summary, the Namibian dream is not necessarily calling for Utopia, but rather for the best that is possibly achievable under the prevailing circumstances.
*Abednego Katuushii Ekandjo writes in a private capacity.
2020-06-01 09:24:41 | 1 months ago