A Lesson from Khomasdal

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Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro Borgward Street in Khomasdal is to be renamed after Richardine Kloppers who back in 1945 in the Old Location single-handedly started a classroom with 45 pupils under a tree. Credit is in the first place due to the Khomasdal community for such foresight in recognising the contribution of one of their own. Secondly, one must perhaps also thank the Windhoek City Council – if only for at last seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. This has been long overdue. Hitherto, we have been seeing the City, towns and villages all over the country dishing out honours to a selected corps of political principals as if before them, there have not been other Namibian heroes and heroines equally, if not more, deserving of honour for community service or their part in the country’s liberation struggle starting with the resistance against German colonialism. To say the least, the way in which such honours have been bestowed has been haphazard, one-sided and flawed in many respects. First, those who have so far been showered with such honours are still with us and one wonders the wisdom of honouring them with everlasting honours like street names before they have proven themselves to the end that they shall forever remain dedicated to the cause of their people. Yes, they have contributed to the liberation struggle and one cannot deny them that. But was their contribution to the struggle the only thing to honour them for? I would say no, because the liberation of this country was not an end in itself but a means to an end. That end is a prosperous Namibia. Some of those so honoured have as yet to prove themselves on that score. In fact, the tendency seems more one of retrogression, not only in terms of moral values but also in terms of dedicated service and duty to the progress of the country and the welfare of her people. Mismanagement, greed, self-enrichment, avarice, self-aggrandisement you name them, seem to have become the hallmark of the service of some of this modern breed of Namibian honourables, their honour notwithstanding. If they continue on this downward slope how can we continue to honour them? And what do we do at the end of the day when they prove themselves horrible instead of honourable? Do we down the statues we have erected in their honour? To tread safely, I think we must only bestow permanent honours on them after they have retired without blemish from public life rather than having to undo their honours when they fall by the wayside. Somehow, our would-be honourables seem to have some bloated sense of deserving such honour that few would ever thinking of waivering such nominations, usually political or economically induced, in lieu of other equally if not more deserving candidates who may not be from the correct bloodline. I am here referring to thoroughbreds like Richardine Kloppers. There are hundreds and hundreds of them out there in our communities, some long gone, but such honours have by design, rather than oversight, been bypassing them. I know of some towns where the incoming council have without much reflection splashed the councillors with street names. In fact, some of these councillors are people of tender age who have as yet to prove themselves in terms of their deeds and duty to their respective communities. It seems being a homeboy and landing on the council is enough to earn one a honourable status and a street name. I have as yet to see a significant number of home girls so honoured. This is at the expense of our deserving fathers and mothers who now have been relegated to the back burners of history, let alone languishing in squalour. Deserving candidates in this regard whether in Windhoek or any other town or village are too numerous to mention. In fact, one finds the same names cropping up time and again in our towns and villages. Not only that but one also finds such names finding a place of honour in Windhoek and other towns and villages in which they have little historical affinity, relevance and significance. At times, such honours seem to afford political office- bearers carrying out their national duties honours. Yet, those so honoured are so blinded by their own sense of worth not to advise otherwise and to suggest others who may be well-deserving. I hope the residents of Khomasdal have not only opened the eyes of local authorities and communities to refrain from buying political favours and applying quid pro quo in community-cum-national matters, but have paved the way for a liberating and embracing culture in this respect that the whole country shall learn from and follow. It is time and incumbent upon local communities to stand up, come forward and put their own who so deserve by community consensus, on their home-grown list of honours. Madam Kloppers, may you not only enjoy the freedom of your street but of all streets in the City!