By Chris Jacobie
THE story of Christmas is a timeless story for believers and non-believers alike. Over time it came to represent humanity’s flirtation and obsession with peace and goodwill and the constant battle of good over evil where upon reflection, good always overcomes the bad.
In Namibia, the sounds of guns of war were silenced during Christmas of 1989 — thirty years ago — when a few good men and one woman of various political parties and social backgrounds – but mortal enemies on the battlefields of Namibia, Angola, and Zambia for decades – assembled on a hill in Windhoek as the constitutional writers to lay the foundations of future trust amidst the greatest mutual suspicion in history.
Such was the suspicion that the United Nations (UN) had a peacekeeping force in place to observe the processes and keep the peace while the world was holding its breath. Dialogue and reconciliation in the interest of Namibia over the Christmas season in 1989 gave birth to a social contract between all Namibians in what is today internationally recognized as arguably one of the most peaceful countries on the face of the planet.
The political spirit of give and take and the culture of democratic winners and losers had been established as one of the greatest Christmas gifts of the Namibian society.
Independence and a constitutional democracy is the anvil from where the nation has taken shape over the past thirty years. The different grades of the Namibian steel is since then steadily moulded into a defence against self-interest and factionalism where the will of the majority and the dignity of the smallest minority is carrying the same weight on the scales of justice and equality. Namibia is not a shouting match but a great conversation where the tone of voice matters more than the volume.
So ingrained is the spirit of common goodness amongst everyday Namibians that scandal of a few mighty is a shock to the Namibian system that leaves deep scars, but Namibians have proven over history that they can heal themselves and wears the scars of adversity with pride.
So resilient is the nation that it withstood onslaughts on every institution and office since Independence.
The gift of trust of 1989 is the inspiration of 2019 and beyond and it is treasured, because it served a nation of common sense well. A historical fact of stability is that the chairman of the constitutional process and reformer of the administration as first Prime Minister, Dr. Hage Geingob, again through the will of the people, is now the protector of the constitution and now as servant serves his last term as third President of the Republic, because that is what most Namibians decided.
But Christmas is much more than goodwill and a reminder of the dignity of fellow man, Christmas is especially the time for Namibians to count their blessings in a time when it was thought that even the weather turned its back on the harsh desert land where only the strong and resilient survive, because they adapt.
There can be no greater gift for Namibians than to receive the rains over the past few days and a promise of better weather in the next few months.
However, the greatest blessing for Namibia is the fibre of its people who are unseen and often unappreciated and who are toiling under the December sun and tilling fields to produce food on the same barren land where only weeks ago the skeletons of animals that died of thirst were strewn as monuments and reminder of the cruel blow of drought and hopelessness that afflicted the small nation.
Today, thousands of small scale subsistence farmers in most of Namibia’s regions are ploughing and tilling fields like hundreds of years before, because that is how they measure their worth and ability to share the fruits of their labour. It is a matter of pride and need, unlike those few who feed from greed, because they just want.
There is no greater challenge in the season of universal goodwill than to restore and maintain trust that was so hard earned. Because trust and strong credible leadership and institutions will solve challenges of corruption, division and disunity.
Namibia’s peace and stability is enshrined in the constitution and a duty and obligation towards the past and the future.
Namibia’s gift is the ability to adapt and to trust.
It must be treasured, because it is worth much more than the gifts that the three wise men brought from the east thousands of years ago where the story of Christmas has its roots amongst believers and non-believers.
They followed a star in the heavens, but Namibians follow the path of goodwill for the common good on this hard earth that a nation calls home.