Marembo F. Marembo
Year in and year out it’s about time that we as citizens of this nation ask ourselves what we really celebrate on the 21st of March. Namibia has gained independence and we are free; the question is what are we celebrating apart from the political freedom we attained? As a nation, what do we really celebrate? Millions of dollars to be spent in one day is it really worth it? A question every Namibian should be asking themselves, we have a nation that is facing crises in many sectors, education, health, and agriculture, yet we have funds that will be wasted in a single day.
The population of Namibia should question this, ‘What independence are we celebrating?’ As a population, we should question this: ‘How is the celebration of independence at the stadiums going to bring changes to our communities, houses and lives?’ Going to the stadiums for one day, how does this make an impact in our lives? year in and year out the same outfits, the same Ndilimani songs, and the same liberation struggle songs. The aspect of growth is to see changes.
For 32 years, we have been celebrating independence at the stadiums, chanting songs and praising those that have fallen, yet once we come back to our communities, it’s the same disgrace, no proper sanitation, no electricity, and no proper water points. People still have to endure the shameful act of using flying/bucket toilets, people still have to endure the aspect of causing deforestation, people have to keep on using candles all these are social problems that can be addressed with some of the funds that will be wasted for one day that won’t even have an impact towards society. It’s time Namibians question why such a huge sum of funds should be spent in one day and not on developmental needs.
The great late John Pombe Mugafuli of Tanzania cancelled independence celebration at the stadium and ordered the people dealing with the funds to allocate and apportion the money for different sectors to upgrade and procure more resources for health ministry, education etc.
Since 1990, the celebration of independence has been the same tradition, gathering at public places, and stadiums and chant liberation songs, listening to the same history and dancing to the tune of Ndilimani songs.
It’s our pride and honour to celebrate the day we attained our freedom. Let’s picture independence like a birthday party. No individual celebrates their birthday the same each year, as humans we bring change to our celebrations, we can choose to celebrate this year by going out for dinner to a restaurant or buying new clothes or a car but every year we celebrate our birthdays differently. So why can’t we as a nation do the same? If Namibia was a person, I am sure she could have complained about the way we celebrate her birthday because each year we do the same thing, go to the stadium to dance, chant and praise.
What our government can do:
Let’s assume the N$25 million dollars will cater to the 14 regions. Every region will, therefore, receive an amount of N$1.7 million. These funds can be used to upscale agricultural projects in regions and emancipate the local people by empowering them to work on these projects. A self-help project can be initiated with these funds, people can be empowered to grow their own food, upgrade their own communities. The aim is to see the change of the independence or the change in the years Namibia has attained.
We have a nation with fast-growing informal settlements, the money intended to buy food, pay artists and pay fuel for transportation of the public can be used to better the living conditions of the people residing in the informal settlement. The funds can be used to increase water points in the informal settlements, and channel pipes to reach people residing far from water taps. The most disgraceful aspect of open defecation can be curbed if some of these funds can be repurposed. For how long should people practice open defecation? How long should the poor endure the shame and disgrace of practising open defecation, and flying/bucket toilets? Every human respects dignity but where is the respect here if son and mother have to sit opposite one another in an open area to help themselves?
How many shacks have to burn down before they consider electricity as a need but not a want?
How many students need to be raped, killed before they can consider taxi ranks a need for every settlement?
We need to emancipate but let the emancipation not only happen at the national level, some of these funds can be used to emancipate at a local community level. Is there shame in celebrating independence without going to the stadium? Is there shame in celebrating independence without singing liberation songs and dancing to Ndilimani songs? We can do better as a nation. N$25 million is a lot to spend on something that won’t even impact the lives of the masses and bring no change to society.
* Marembo Florian Marembo is the founder and director of Marembo Charity Foundation. He is a youth advocate motivational speaker/author, a graduate from the University Of Namibia (Unam), and student at the Namibia University Of Science and Technology (Nust) majoring in Public Management.