By Yumbo Malechi Elvins
It’s paining in an independent Namibia to hear a fellow Namibian calling another, horrible and derogative names when they have a rightful name or tribal name.
It is high time that as Namibian citizens, we learn to respect one another and as human beings in general.
During colonial times, the colonial masters allowed different tribal names as they pleased because they were not direct representatives of the local people but were here with one purpose of exploiting the local people and the resources for their own foreign countries’ benefits.
So in the New Namibia, let’s respect and embrace one another as Namibians regardless of our colour, ethnic origin, gender, social or economic status, etc.
Allow me a space to express my dissatisfaction and disappointment with the article of 29 May 2012 in our local daily paper New Era, which was in Silozi language and I quote ‘’Mushobo wa Makwengo u bata zwelopili fa Omega.’’
The purpose of writing my opinion in your esteemed paper is not based on the content of the article, but the usage of the terminology Makwengo, which has negative connotations. The traditional community referred to as Makwengo in the article is called Khwe not Makwengo.
The term or word Makwengo, which is mostly used by our fellow Namibians from eastern Caprivi to refer to people with click languages, has negative connotations and as a result, it’s usage in a public (official) platform is not good at all for us, Khwe.
This is the case because it degrades and violates the Dignity and Rights enshrined in our Constitution (Namibian Constitution: Article 8 Respect for Human Dignity).
The tribal name Khwe is as old as the community itself. So I am calling on our fellow Namibians to know that this traditional community is called Khwe not Makwengo and should be known as such.
I wrote an article deliberately some time last year trying to bring to light the differences that exist within the group known as San in terms of their languages and their tribal names. This article of mine was published in the same paper. So I was so shocked and surprised to see this article I’m responding to.
I think the author knows what this group in Western Caprivi is called but was just ignorant of the fact on the ground and used the degrading word in the article.
In this article my discussion is concentrated in the tribe (Khwe) in question and emphasizing that this traditional community should be given the due respect it deserves, just like any other traditional communities in our republic and as such use the correct tribal name when referring to this community.
I am calling on the Editor of the New Era daily paper to take note of this and in the future use the tribal name Khwe when referring to this traditional community.
I also take this opportunity to pass my disappointment with NBC Lozi Radio (station) service, which also uses the same word and ask them to take note too.
To substantiate my argument on NBC Radio Lozi service, I quote the recent incident where the word was used on this radio service, on 17 June 2012 on the Programme ‘’ Batu Ni Mulao’’.
I’m not interested in naming people so I will not name names here of people who were conducting the programme. It’s quite disturbing to see that the media houses which are established to carry the lead in terms of educating, informing, entertaining, among many other functions, mislead the public out there.
So the question one would ask here is that are these media institutions executing properly one of the crucial functions of educating the public at large.
And with this, I see indeed the relevance of the arguments our Honourable Members of Parliament put forth during their deliberations on our Current National Budget (2012/13).
The spill effects of the usage of these words with negative connotations are already seen in our community, resulting in school learners dropping out from school because they feel neglected and traumatized and now with media promoting it, one wonders how it will end.
The blame is normally put on these poor people that they are failing providers, be it government or non-governmental institutions, but they are victims of the situations which are in most cases overlooked and not assessed properly. So our media houses should take cognizance of these facts when conducting their work.
Currently, our caring SWAPO-led Government is busy with a ‘Back to school and stay in school Campaign,’ meant for young people from the minority groups in the country and at this juncture, one asks if the campaign will bear fruit as envisaged within an unconducive environment?
We know of many negative impacts as a result of usage of these terminologies but I thought I should illustrate my article with a school-going child’s situation and reflect the impact on an individual learner, family and ultimately the community to bring out the picture of what I’m trying to communicate to the readers/or nation.
In summary, the use of these words brings both physical and psychological impact to the victims, so let’s not over look this crucial issue but try to get remedy for it.
Psychological effects may result in isolation of the victims from others due to feeling of being neglected, low self-esteem, losing concentration on their work, etc.
Therefore, I am calling on role players to help in preventing the situation by avoiding these negative and degrading words in official platforms.
I’m urging the media to some of the times use even geographical descriptions where they are not in a position to get right words to use – because the case for the tribe in question is very clear due to the fact that when one mentions Western Caprivi, what comes in the next person’s mind is this traditional community, so it’s simple.
I am not a tribalist and will never be one so please readers, do not take me wrongly because what I’m doing here is to bring across the pain and suffering caused to this community due to this inhuman phrases used by the fellow country men and women from dominant groups.
• The opinion expressed in this article is entirely mine as an individual from this community and has nothing to do with my employer.