Let’s Not Betray Our Heroes


Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro As we are commemorating, or celebrating, Heroes Day this weekend, it is only natural that we join the folk, nation, race, peer group, family, clan, political party, football club let alone the local shebeen crowd, and heaven knows what else, in remembering this important day on our national calendar. Mention of all these various social groups is made, and please feel free to add to them, to underline the fact that there can be no one hero or heroine. In fact, as they say anyone can be a hero or heroine. Equally we can have past, present and future heroines and heroes. Likewise we can have momentary and transient heroes and heroines or forever. We can have imaginary or mythological heroes and heroines. The Webster’s New Encyclopaedic Dictionary describes a heroine as a “woman of courage and daring” and as “a woman admired for her achievements and qualities”. From this definition achievements can thus be in any aspect of human endeavour like political, military, religion, sport, culture, science, the list is endless. Given this definition, heroism can also be attained at different levels of a nation’s strata. It can be at the political level, and politics has many facets and levels. It can be at any political party level and again this party can be ruling or in opposition. Any party can also assume many forms because the party has many structures. There is the national structure, regional, sub-regional, local level and even branch level. These different levels can produce one time or the other their heroines and heroes. However, there is also a time when the same party produces a heroine or hero that does not only become a heroine or hero to the particular structure or level but also the whole party’s heroine/hero. The problem, however, is that somehow and too often than not we do not see it that way, or do not want to see it that way. This is largely determined by anyone’s proximity to the heroine or hero and the impact of the heroic achievements or deeds on anyone. It is a matter of pride and if anyone is alienated, or alienates her or him from the source of achievement, then it is axiomatic that she/he cannot identify and be proud of the act of heroism and achievement. Given this eventuality, because of human nature we tend to seek our own heroines and heroes, sometimes to the extent of fabricating them or even mythologizing them. However, this does not mean that at one time or the other there cannot be national heroes and heroines. One needs not look further than to our colonial resistance-liberation. This started way back when our great-great grandfathers stood up against German intrusion, resisted German colonialism and subsequently passed on the torch to the generations that carried the banner against Apartheid South Africa’s occupation till the logical culmination of the resistance-cum-liberation struggle into the independence of the Motherland on March 21, 1990. One can thus only give anyone who fails to see the lineage that started from the resistance of the pioneers of the anti-colonial struggle and ending with modern liberators, the benefit of the doubt and sharpen the teaching of resistance-liberation history in its proper and objective context in schools. Not only that but also as we ready to commemorate our heroines and heroes this weekend, it must be the expressed patriotic duty of those ascending the platforms where our resistance-liberation history it to be relayed, to do justice to this resistance and liberation history. Failure to do this is not only a travesty of the history we so revere but the remembrance of those who laid down their lives, among other sacrifices, shall also be nothing more than a mockery and a betrayal. I would beg to differ with the need for legislation on this matter. We cannot at every turn make our country a haven of meaningless laws that at the end of the day are either impracticable, or legislate for matters that only need political will and socialisation to make amends. The issue of heroines and heroes is one such matter. It is not that we don’t know who are our heroines and heroes, or who can be a heroine or hero. That we know for sure but either through our flippant and subjective understanding of our liberation history, or through our political deliberateness, myopia and negativism, we decide to sideline them and condemn them to the dustbins of history. Politicians, parliamentarians and states-women and -men, first need to come out of their hegemonic political-historical cocoons, and together with our historians, academics, media and civil society at large do justice to our history. If this happens there will be no need to legislate just to define who are and can be our heroines and heroes. As we disperse in different directions this weekend where we shall commemorate our national heroines and heroes, because I do not believe that we do not have national heroines and heroes common to all of us, we must be mindful that we are only two arms of our historical resistance-liberation movement, and today of a sovereign entity called Namibia. As we remember these heroines and heroes, may their blood forever keep our history alive, forever water our freedom, unity and eternally imbue us with egalitarianism.