By Chris Jacobie
OVER the past few weeks, Namibians have earned the right to celebrate the small victories they have achieved against the Covid-19 pandemic.
On reflection, it must serve as a major inspiration for the battle for economic recovery that still lies ahead.
With a rare distinction of no deaths recorded and no new Covid-19 positive cases registered the past few days Namibia shows that the courage of duty and unity above all else remains a fortress to where the nation must retreat in the most challenging of times.
Namibia gives evidence of great presidential leadership, a committed cabinet, well-led and focussed government institutions and a nation that is tested and tempered by the type of fear, uncertainty and tragedy that coronavirus has unleashed on every nation in the world.
After a historic continuous economic downturn on top of a devastating eight-year drought, politics of faction and unprecedented corruption scandals, the coronavirus pandemic could not have hit at a worse time.
Covid-19 killed the 30th Independence Day celebrations, which at that time already was a casualty of the adverse economy, too.
The President, Dr Hage Geingob, who continuously had to be on the lookout for political assassins of self-enrichment and greed, had to – in his own circle – appoint a new Cabinet and announce a State of Health Emergency in the most testing of times.
Instead of celebrating freedom and fundamental human rights, Namibia saw their most sacred rights, except life itself, suspended.
In what will be judged as President Geingob’s finest hour, apart from the adoption of the Constitution under his Chairmanship in 1990, the health of a nation matters most. His decisive action when the first two European tourists tested positive for Covid-19, today holds Namibia among distinguished nations in the world with no reported fatalities.
Three Covid-19 visitors were treated in Namibia, and sent back healthy to their families and countries where the death toll of Coronavirus patients reached unimaginable numbers and is still climbing.
In the past few days, not one additional case was recorded in Namibia while testing multiplied enormously.
Namibia is now a fortress and an example to the region, the continent and the world of self-sacrificing duty and unity of a nation for the common good.
The nation is rising as the phoenix has risen from the ashes – from the miseries of drought, prolonged economic stagnation, a state of health emergency and a lockdown.
Namibians in misery and on the back foot also had the opportunity to learn much from fellow citizens and should not only be proud of themselves but inspired by their fellow men and women.
The Covid-19 pandemic in general proved that Namibians are disciplined and law-abiding citizens of whom the majority stick to the rules in spite of small isolated incidents by the always insolent and ignorant, although in Namibia – less so than elsewhere.
Namibia did not learn lessons that they did not know, but Covid-19 reminded Namibians that they are Namibians and that our society is different and unique, but united in values in more ways than is always visible or appreciated.
In the frontline of the labour force, is the often unappreciated and mostly underpaid packers in shops, the security guards, petrol attendants and those that see to it that there are supplies to name but a few of the unsung heroes.
These ranks should be joined by taxi drivers and all the producers of food, from commercial farmers to subsistence farmers, who still with their backs against the wall, continue to harvest amid floods or prepare new fields after floods.
What Namibians also see is – unlike the picture that is often painted – they are not a nation of drunkards and habitual criminals and that only some of the most serious crimes are the members of the fishrot scandal smugglings phones into their cells or the suspected corrupt evading accountability.
It is also clear that the political heat of factionalism was personal artificial, internal and not a national issue, but a contest of factional greed that is in a fight of their lives for the control of the treasury. On the horizon is tribalism of entitlement of who the Geingob-successor should be.
The armchair revolutionaries, bitter intellectuals, self-appointed analysts and political scientist should not ignore the reality that the Covid-19 State of Emergency exposed. Namibians will not be whipped up by fake social media interest groups who try to break the law and undo peace, stability and democracy.
Decisive political decisions by Dr Geingob and clear and regular communication between the people and the authorities has put lot of the political smoke and mirrors to bed.
The mood of Namibia is not one of dissatisfaction, but one of cooperation. Reflecting on the response of fellow citizens, Namibians will be motivated to emerge — ready for the slow and difficult march to improve the economy when the time rises.
If the coronavirus is to meet its match, Namibia and Namibians might be just the example that the rest of the world in their darkest hour might envy.
Good leadership and cooperative citizens who put the nation first are to be thanked for that.
Namibians might be shaken every now and then, but the roots of the society lie deep and the great trees in whose shades the nation gathers, are not falling.