God Help Us Against Tribalism!

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Namibian football is a shadow of its former glory. Football in this country is on its death bed, caught in the caprice of the charlatans who have turned the game into a milk cow. The game is afflicted with tribalism, nepotism and sheer incompetence by some of those in charge according to a recent Fifa report. In this context, the controlling world football body has given notice that dramatic and sometimes painful measures would have to be taken to rescue football in Namibia. Fifa is sending one of its officials to come and assess the situation on the ground and try to put things right. This is good news for our country because it would appear we have not been able to clean up our own mess. We have been living with chaos in football for a long time now and have not been able quash it – in fact we fuel it. The more those in charge of football disagree, the more they stoke the fire – much to the detriment of this beautiful game. As a result, Namibians have become spectators and supporters of other teams around the world, including those in our neighbouring states. Today, Namibians have little appreciation for local soccer. They know players from far away countries like Ecuardor or Costa Rica by name and looks but none from their own teams like Black Africa, Tigers, Blue Waters and others including the Brave Warriors, our national team. This is very unfortunate for a country whose team – the Brave Warriors – nearly caught the attention of the world not so long ago in 1998 when they took on the best in Burkina Faso at the African Cup of Nations that year. We came so close then and have now retreated to the brink – even in terms of international Fifa rankings. The question that needs to be asked is – why is this the case. What has happened to the Good Old Days of the game when players Congo Hindjou, Lolo Goraseb, Bimbo Tjihero and many others brought honour and respect to our country, never mind those who preceded them like Oscar Mengo, the late Doc Hardley, Ambrosius Fyff, Rusten Mogane, Mendos Hipondoka etc. We will not venture into commenting on the technical aspects of the game. That is an area for Seth Boois, Rusten Mogane and others to tell the country why we are slipping so badly down the slope with little hope of becoming one of the soccer powerhouses in Southern Africa, if not the African continent. What is worrisome to us and many others are the allegations of tribalism and nepotism in Namibian football. Soccer is a game for the common man and should not be tribalised or trivialised. In any case, what does tribal affiliation have to do with playing football. No tribe in Namibia invented soccer and none is endowed with more exclusive skills in football than others. So why the farce about this tribe or that tribe in the game of football? The Namibian constitution, our nation’s bible, has no place for tribalism. Our people have accepted each other as equals and as one nation. Tribalism is a minefield, and once your in it, no one can get out of it unscathed. Even those who escape into the tribal cocoons that suit them would not be spared the consequences. They will be hurt. Of course, it is no easy matter to confess to being tribalist, but you can admit that to yourself, if that is the easyest way out. But to try to brush it aside is to do so at your peril, for this is a vice that eats into ones humanity, compassion and dignity. Bishop Zephania Kameeta, not long ago, likened tribalism to apartheid. He said, and we quote him; “What we are doing at present {practicing tribalism} is the opposite of what we strived to attain {independence}. It is a mockery. How can we fight for something and steal from it. How can we fight against apartheid and be tribalist?”. If those running football, and others who practice this heinous crime, could only internalise Bishop Kameeta’s words, that would be good for our country. We singled out the football fraternity not because it is the only body where tribalism is said to be rife. There are many instances where black discriminates against black, brother against brother and sister against sister, all in the name of tribalism and ethnicity. This situation is also prevalent at the political level where some of those at the top who are supposed to provide good leadership and unite our people into a harmonious society are guilty of this vice. May God bless our land and free us from tribalism in the same way he freed us from apartheid and colonialism.