Of Polio, Shebeens and Ex-Combatants


By Wezi Tjaronda Recent events involving the polio outbreak, the shebeen showdown and demands by ex-combatants have taught me a few lessons. Firstly, things that one would think are dead and buried, can still rear their ugly heads if they so please. They have also taught me that the old adage “Let sleeping dogs lie,” should not necessarily be taken at face value. Who could have imagined that after successfully being free from the polio virus for some tens of years, Nami-bians were going to queue in their millions to get polio drops. After all, having implemented an Expanded Programme on Immunisation and having not recorded any cases, the country was getting closer to being certified polio-free. And I am sure there are those that had no idea about this disease even though polio drops are only meant for children. Such things can, however, not be taken for granted and that is why I think what is buried is not always dead. The same goes with our esteemed ex fighters who last week demanded their “Fair Share of the Namibian Cake”. Their strings of demand ranging from monthly remuneration, fish quotas and mining concessions, and being allowed to work until the age of 70 years depending on the fitness, could surely have been accommodated somehow had it been that they were made a little earlier. I wonder why it has taken them more than a decade to bring these demands to the table or is it because they have waited and waited and seen the inaction about their plight. If my memory serves me right though, the government is looking into the housing conditions of those who went into exile before 1975 and are above 60 years of age. Before reading these demands, those that are ignorant like me, could easily have thought that these “war veterans” (allow me to use the word), who fought for the freedom of this Nation of the Brave were “home and dry”. And, yet again, here come our fellow countrymen and women who are fighting for the right to operate shebeens, an industry that – yes – employs thousands of Na-mibians and of course contributes to the economy of the country. Whether the law that is being enforced now by closing down unlicensed liquor outlets were done in consultation with the operators or not is perhaps not the major problem. Forgive my naivetÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚© for thinking that everyone could have seen the smoke that is associated with fire when the first hundreds of shebeens were closed down for operating illegally. I do not want to even think about what they have gone through in the past two weeks sleeping in the cold. Maybe it is justified because, as all would agree, people react in the strangest of ways, especially when their very source of survival is threatened. Well, these are just my thoughts, but since they say that every single day presents a fresh learning opportunity, I think we can still learn from such things. It is dangerous to take things for granted and sleeping dogs are sometimes not asleep. Eeeeeewa.