Racism, tribalism should be totally rejected

THE global spectacle in defence of black lives following the brutal murder of George Floyd in recent weeks, triggers an introspective realisation that, racism and tribalism remain imbedded in the social fabric of our country, 30 years after our liberation icons delivered what they hoped would be a free and equal Namibia.

These two evils that should be condemned with impunity have constantly showed their ugly head particularly in political discourse and regrettably, in issues of common cause that require unity to see the country move forward.

We are particularly disgusted and taken aback by the racial and derogatory attacks on President Hage Geingob last week by Sonja Isaaks who said that, all she needs is an AK47, a box of red wine and some cocaine for courage to get rid of presumably the President. This was just a few days after another previously advantaged woman, Coerien Steenkamp posted on her social media account that civilisation is not made for blacks and the Bible is not written for black people adding, “let that sink into your rotten smelly mouth, go back to the bush and eat your rotten food like your forefathers”.

While this exhibits that racism is still a problem within our society, the extended problem of tribalism particularly in our politics has rendered us a broken society which needs to self-introspect and find ways to stop these senseless traits.

Verily, we have seen how President Geingob has been continuously exposed to attacks that stem from a position of tribe, regardless of the stellar job that he has done particularly in this time when the country is ravaged by Covid-19. We have also seen how political factions are born out of tribal interests and how not being affiliated to a particular tribe has rendered some Namibians less important than others.

We ought to be reminded that this unfortunate lens, in which some of us have chosen to view our country, has grossly undermined the values and ideals that liberation stalwarts such as Hendrik Witbooi, Andimba Toivo ya Toivo, Sam Nujoma and David Meroro among others envisaged for Namibia.

None of them would have ever imagined that their sacrifices were going to be abused in a manner that we see today. A level of abuse that denies other fellow Namibians their place as equal citizens of this country who have the right to participate in the activities of their homeland without fear of unfair and unjustified judgement.

For Namibia, it must be also understood that without an open, honest and sober conversation about race and tribalism, we cannot understand the extent of the continuing legacy of racial and tribal segregation, and the policies needed to rectify it.

Indeed such prejudices are some of the scourges of our society but when they grow and lurk especially where they are not even noticed, the danger is even greater.

Whilst the right of freedom of expression lies at the basis of a democratic society, it must always be remembered that the constitution limits this right and places certain forms of expression – including ‘hate speech’ – outside constitutional protection.

For this reason and for the respect we owe to our forefathers of the liberation struggle, it is time we reject both racism and tribalism and begin to move together in harmony and unity as our success as a nation highly depends on it.