Flipside — By Chris Jacobie
THE face masks that Namibians wear might prevent or minimize the spreading of COVID-19 (the coronavirus). It might also hide our identities, but because we appear the same from far away, it does not mean that we are close enough to each other to face the huge challenges that lie ahead.
Namibia, not by choice, but by providence, was called to a World War against a health pandemic, and as a small country under strain of economic hardship and droughts for years, served with distinction and delivered beyond the call of duty.
Decisive leadership saved lives and it is worthy to note that many countries did not choose to evacuate their citizens and representatives from Namibia to an unsafe homeland where the fatalities are still counted in the tens of thousands. When the borders of the world open, Namibia might just be one of the countries that in addition to its natural beauty and hospitality of its people might benefit from its Covid-19 pandemic health record. No-one has died and additionally, it is safer here than anywhere else.
And that is the difference between the much anticipated State of the Nation (SONA), by the President, Dr. Hage Geingob, the State in the nation and the State of the nation that Namibians deserve to be in.
There is a bigger known than the unseen danger lurking behind a nation that looks the same in shopping malls, shops, open markets and moving up and down the streets of cities, towns and villages.
In fact, law-abiding citizens who follow the rules and protect each other, might fool themselves into some image of national unity, while they are just doing their duty towards themselves, others and the authorities, but behind the masks, they are economically, politically and socially more divided than ever before, because they are disappointed by the reality of corruption, mismanagement and abuse of power by bad law makers that are now sitting as law breakers in jail cells after they robbed Namibians of their resources and then stripped them of their innocence.
When the President delivers his State of the Nation Address tomorrow in the National Assembly, Namibians and the political leadership must know and appreciate that the COVID-19 pandemic opened a small window of opportunity in the Namibian House through which a new day can break.
Namibia might not have the leaders in opposition and government, but the citizens of the land who are now gathering record harvests as subsistence farmers, those that blow the whistle on big and small corruption, those that reconcile with their adversaries and those that believe in the goodness of man, can launch Namibia into the normal that Independence promised.
There is no “new” normal without normal; even the bar of the old economic- and nationhood- normal is set too high.
The COVID-19 pandemic just magnified the old challenges, but unlike COVID-19 that will eventually disappear through science, the challenges of division, suspicion and recession need a national revolution of dignity, trust and accountability.
The danger is that a masked Namibia looks the same and acts the same, but can be confused as a unity. False unity leads to false democracy.
Civil society activists, failed politicians and economic opportunists who profess love for democracy, but reject the will of the people and ignore the national interest in the most testing of times, are like a brief flirtation that end in an unwanted pregnancy and an abandoned child.
Namibians suffer and bear their burdens with dignity. They deserve some of the dignity they invested in their government and leaders as dividend and return on a thirty year investment in peace and stability. Namibians are sure to return the investment of trust in them like always.
This light in the tunnel might be the place under the sun that every Namibian is entitled to.