FLIPSIDE — By Chris Jacobie
THE burial of five family members — three brothers and a cousin — shot to death by members of the Botswana Defence Force, and their mother, later assassinated by the bullet of grief through the heart that we now know was too heavy for any human to bear, is a call from beyond the grave for reason and statecraft to prevail.
It always served Botswana and Namibia well.
The possibility that such a tragedy repeats itself must also be laid to rest permanently because it did happen in the past and too many innocent lives on all sides were shattered in the crossfire.
It is a time to weep for the subsistence community of the isolated Impalila community and beyond in the corner of Eden, the last paradise on earth.
A thousand year custodianship and co-existence of man and beast are shaken forever and the wisest men with an equal abundance of tolerance and empathy must rise to the challenge.
The Namibian nation will find a minute tomorrow to bow their heads in solidarity with the Zambezi Region in general and Impalila in particular and if the flags don’t fly half-mast, the forests and swamps will welcome their fishermen and gatherers back into the white sands of paradise where the birds will sing their farewell.
Bullets have pierced the night silence, but the tragedy did not silence Namibians’ outpour of grief and sympathy when needed and should never do so.
No blame, no anger, nor slogans will ease the pain of the relatives, but a time of compassion and sympathy must remind the community that Namibia will step up and step in as best as they can to lessen their unbearable burden.
Namibians must be allowed to weep in peace and dignity and must shed their tears and generously share, support and understand.
Grieving for the departed and crying with the remaining victims is what Namibians are and what distinguish them.
The Baobab trees – that have over many centuries stood tall and watched when ancient explorers and tribes came to the place where buffaloes roam and the fish eagles scream – are still on guard and are a reminder that standing tall and flying high is the first step to prevent future tragedy and protect man and beast alike.
The water-rich area of Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe is a thing of human and natural wonder.
It is a mix of culture and beauty and deserves better.
The bonds of Namibia’s frontier communities with their neighbours from Kunene to Ngoma are by blood, relations and a shared genesis.
It is not a line on a map, but a lifestyle that keeps the nation safe from invasion and conflict and in touch with paradise on earth.
The people living in it are the custodians of a unique corner of the world.
The heat must be turned down in order to give communities and families time to grieve.
Statecraft and experience and not opportunism must mould the forces of border communities into a unified patrol of empathy, dignity and execution of duties to become a fortress against violence and retaliation.
An act of goodwill for Botswana’s and Namibia’s security forces will be to have joint patrols on both sides of the rivers and in the swamps in the north.
Anything else will give victory to those who want to undermine peace and the institutions of democracy so that they can continue to feed their greed from the plunder of natural resources by abusing human resources and by pitting brother against brother.
After all, justice and peace produce dignity and freedom when there no more tears to shed and when future tragedy is prevented by vision and reason.
Namibia, like paradise, deserves peace and safety in every corner, especially in the forests and swamps where unlike in the cities and towns there is no safety in numbers, but safety and security in community and Namibian unity.