OWe tell about the contribution of young people to its growth and the importance of Independence Day for young people. We share a general perception that young people today are complacent and want to lead carefree lives, building their conventions and rules. We are accused of “not being rooted in our culture” and of blindly aping Western culture.
But we are happy because we have many accomplishments to boast about. We are carving out our niche on the world stage, whether by positioning ourselves as a powerful emerging economy. Namibia leaves its footprints for the world to follow.
We readily accept blame for being complacent to our conventions and traditional norms, and perhaps our failure to strengthen community volunteerism. Because independence doesn’t just mean our freedom from the South African apartheid regime and cherishing our so-called 32-year-old ‘sovereignty’ while watching the English Premier League on TV. Independence has a broader meaning. It means breaking down and shattering all the old myths and notions that have crippled Namibia. It means we break free from all the taboos that have kept us divided and move forward as a united nation.
As university students in the late 2010s “Fees Must Fall”, we went out and protested on social media as a community against the Fishrot scandal, and came together as a family when the people of the informal settlement of Twaloloka were in need, and we did what we could to help. We don’t shy away from gender issues and the waste of resources without considering the sustainability of our environment. Young women are ready to break the old chains to assert their rightful place in society. We burst with energy and celebration when Christine Mboma won an Olympic silver medal. the first since Frank Fredericks. When Dillish Mathews returned as the winner of Big Brother Africa, our imaginations widened to the true possibilities of what we can do. We are proud when young people realize their dreams and become icons to follow not only for us Namibians, but for the whole world. We are proud when our diversity resonates internationally. We imitate the simplicity when VVIPs like young Josephat Tjiho travel like an ordinary man using our local transport. Fashion and class refuse to be intimidated by social and economic boundaries and are ready to chart their own course during Windhoek Fashion Week. Yes, we share the blame for making our own rules. Because we want to realize the ideals and goals set by our freedom fighters of real freedom, equality and justice so that we can build an inclusive nation where no one is marginalized from respect, honor and fruits of our country’s growth. We accept that Independence Day is a holiday for us, but surely the day when we can relax, introspect our accomplishments, celebrate and redefine our goals.
We are determined. We have the zeal to move forward and achieve our ambitions. It’s just that we live as we like. After a hard day’s work, we relax at a local nightclub/bar, where we are harassed for being morally corrupt. Young people are not corrupt, we are just building a strong nation. Such is the greatness of Namibian youth that we unknowingly add to the wealth and contribute to the growth of Namibia. And, ultimately, making Independence Day more meaningful to us. While I don’t deny the fact that drug addiction and crime have become much more prevalent among young people, we have become more obsessed with materialism. And it is sad that Namibia is divided when our own young representatives spread communal flames. Then we are morally “corrupted”.
But, we hope that with strict laws and education from our guardians and parents, we can weed the bad apples out of the basket and build the ‘Namibia of my dreams’.
* Joseph Ndondi is the Executive Director of Social Enabled Education (SEE) Namibia, a non-profit organization.