By Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab
I was there during the early years when two things were discussed in our first Cabinet. The two things were the following: First was the name of the new Namibian currency.
The second was the choice of the image on the new currency. On the name of the currency, Niko Bessinger won the day, the “Namibian Dollar”. As regards the image, President Sam Nujoma won, in spite of the vociferous heckling, by a large number of us in the Cabinet in favour of the image to be that of the Founding President, Comrade Sam Nujoma.
While this process had started with our first Minister of Finance, my good colleague and all-time friend, Otto Herrigel, it was his successor, the late Gert Hanekom, who was motivating the item.
The list of the suggested names for the currency bordered on a mass lunacy. Humans are apparently capable of such outlandish waste of time, but not on the real challenges of poverty reduction, employment creation or defeating corruption.
On the image issue which has become topical at the present time, this is what happened in Cabinet. The prevailing tradition in Africa was that the image of the Head of State must be the only one. Most of us were thus being true Pan-Africanists. But President Nujoma stuck to his preference and won the day.
I thought that as the Namibians go about strengthening their vocal cords and the brave ones drawing the line in the sand, we ought to be aware of this piece of history. The Cabinet Minutes will amply verify the extent to which the Chairman of the Cabinet, President Sam Nujoma, lionized about Kaptein Hendrik Witbooi, the role which the venerable Chief played in the anti-colonial struggle in Namibia.
Let’s take it easy and concentrate more on nation building, national reconciliation, and social justice and on further deepening of our democracy, the rule of law, and employment creation that embraces all of our communities everywhere.