ALTHOUGH low key, Friday’s commemoration of Namibia’s eighteenth year of independence is still important and significant. Tomorrow marks 18 years of steady economic progress, peace and toil.
Independence Day is important in so many ways. The day marks the birth of our nation, a nation born out of blood and a bitter struggle.
So many compatriots have paid the ultimate price to free this land starting with the first wars of resistance in the 1800s to the last shots fired on that eventful day in April 1989.
Brave men and women, sons and daughters of this beautiful land vowed to God and unto themselves that never will they live as slaves and second-class citizens in their own country. These compatriots had one vision and mission – a free Namibia whose citizens shall live in peace and dignity and where the colour of one’s skin counts for nothing.
To this end, our forebearers gave so much for so long. Pitched battles were fought across this land, in the valleys, forests and across mountains.
Peter Nanyemba would later epitomise the freedom struggle as one where the brave sons and daughters of this land would have to cross many rivers of blood in order to reach the promised land. Indeed, Namibians indeed paid dearly. They made supreme sacrifices until liberty was attained on March 21, 1990.
It is this day that all citizens are called to observe tomorrow.
March 21 is no ordinary day. It is a day to remember for it is on this day that our nation was delivered from the bondage of colonialism perpetuated by a minority racist regime.
The day symbolises freedom and peace. It symbolises a proud history and it is this glorious history that our nation must pay homage to come on Friday.
March 21 is also a day on which the nation has to look beyond today. The day presents an opportunity for stocktaking, for reflection and for charting a new course. On Friday, we must not only embrace and celebrate but also think hard and deep about the challenges facing our young nation. And indeed they are too numerous.
After independence, the country has generally followed a progression path.
During the past 18 years, we laid a strong foundation for the future. We have created a united nation out of the different ethnic fragmentations inherited from apartheid rule. Over the past 18 years, Parliament has formulated important legislations that are a prerequisite for good governance and democratic rule. Similarly, various legislations and programmes for the advancement of the socio-economic conditions of the people have seen the light of day.
Universal education and health have been prioritised. Billions of dollars are being provided every year to ensure that all the people enjoy these services.
Peace and stability, the ultimate panacea for solving the myriad problems facing this young nation, are sacred and safeguarded.
But in as much as we should commemorate this historic day, we also need to spend our time to plan for the future. We cannot achieve economic independence if our mindsets remain steeply stuck in our past. We are not saying our history should be forgotten. Indeed, the past informs the present and future and is therefore important.
But that does not mean we should overly cling to the past. We need to expend our energy on the challenges facing the country – from nurturing peace and harmony to issues of education and poverty. Our main preoccupation should become the present and future.
We wish our nation the best on Independence Day.