“THIS nation has not been defeated” and “The nation is not under siege”. I consider these two of the profoundest views expressed on Monday by two of the panellists on ‘Talk of the Nation’ during a discussion on violence.
Another view was also aired with equal profoundness, namely, that the solution does not lie in the sentences meted out to perpetrators, especially the death sentence, a solution many a caller to the programme seemed to tout generously.
The harsh reality is that we first need to bring the culprits to book before deciding on the sentence. This is exactly what has proven an Achilles heel as far as fighting crime in Namibia is concerned. Given the various factors at play and that any singular solution cannot provide a quick fix, or a solution at all even in the long term, it behoves the whole society to gang together.
The talk came in the wake of the gender-based violence conference last week, one of the few the country has ever hosted in a long time, if not the first. This was taking place as the country was once again being shaken out of its slumber by yet another brutal killing and the dismembering of a member of this society.
This heinous act and that of last year when another lady was beheaded, strangely seem to invite the awe of almost the entire nation with the media joining in big time. This is as if such acts of violence are a first in our society.
They are only but a tip of the iceberg of the acts of violence and mutilation taking place daily by the second or minute. Yet, the societal cry is so irregular, transient and temporal as if such wanton killings and abuses of, and including those of helpless toddlers, girls and boys, is not a daily occurrence. Despite their being our daily news diet, somehow they do not seem to be of grave concern to the broader society except when once in a blue moon it decides to cry out at what it perceives to be so gruesome. Is there any violation and abuse that one can term more gruesome than the other? Certainly not, not from the perspectives of the victims.
As much as there cannot be any smaller violation than the other or any bigger one, the society cannot thus leave their prevention and combating and the correction of the perpetrators to the presumably responsible agencies. Neither should our approach be purely crime bashing or punishment-inclined.
The first realisation is that such violations are perpetrated by beloved members of our society from our homes. I am a little worried that except for one or two panellists and some callers, who talked about a return to our African roots and values, and to Christian morals, there was no mention of the possible underlying causes. One of these is obviously the decay of our economic system. Certainly only a deranged society can produce deranged members in the mould of the perpetrators of the crimes that have us talking today. Thus the first real response can only start with the society.
The society collectively, and us as individual members of the society, need to do some deep soul-searching about its moral decay and degeneration. There is no way that the society at large can distance itself from what is happening and apportion psychotic individual blame. Society must partly carry the blame for the kind of members it delivers. Sure a host of factors are responsible.
The beginning of the search for the causes is nowhere than in our own homes. Of course, one must be conscious of the fact that not all homes are equally functional.
However, as the saying goes, charity begins at home. To a large extent the home has neglected and abdicated the responsibility of building the characters of our future leaders. If a small part of the society cannot bring its due this is understandable and the burden so shifted to other units may be bearable.
However, we must remember the home is but only a smaller unit of the whole. This whole is the society and its various subunits, one of which is the economic sector. The latter is by no means less significant than the other units, as much as it may not on its own sufficiently be responsible for the ills of violence in our society. However, the extent to which the society provides for its members, directly, or indirectly by providing the necessary environment in which they can prosper, may explain the kind of deranged members we find in the society. To say the least, the society currently is far from providing for all and to each according to need and from each according to ability.
Thus, the spate of gross violations we are seeing may partly lie in the way we share the economic cake and not necessarily in the criminal inclination of some members of our society and their dysfunctional homes.