Are shebeens the rot? And if thereto, what now with them?

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WITHERTO shebeens? One cannot help but pose the question. Because this is not only becoming a vexed question in view of the crimes, social ills and vices, you name them, that are associated with these drinking holes these days as residents of the Single Quarters have come to experience..

But far from being a necessary source of income and providence for their operators as a means of livelihood, shebeens are increasingly becoming a liability to their very host communities and localities, the same entities they are meant and supposed to uplift. The days of the Namibia Shebeen Association (NSA) when such joints were an important and responsible edifice of any community or locality, in fact a nerve point of communal socialisation and bonding, seem long gone. Instead, today they seem more than anything else, to represent a sorry blemish and eye sore to their very localities and communities.

In fact, describing shebeens in our localities and communities, wherever they are in the length and breadth of the country as a Sodom and Gomorrah, is to say the least, putting it mildly because shebeens today represents at worst nothing but evil, and at best a nuisance. And the sad thing is that patrons of most of these joints today are those who are supposed to be the future leaders of tomorrow. One only wonders what kind of society, communities and neighbourhoods are we nurturing if we do not better groom places other than shebeens for those who are supposed to be the leaders of tomorrow?

I recently observed a scene at one such watering hole in the capital of the Cattle Country, Gobabis, patronised by youngsters in daylight, and I must say it was not a good spectacle. The first thought started rolling in my mind was whether these youngsters have any homes, and any parents at all as much. This spectre was playing itself out in full view of a group of adults, not far away, who themselves were also engaged and engulfed in an alcoholic stupor of their own. If those who are supposed to be setting an example to the young ones are doing this in full view of these young ones, is it really any wonder where our society and communities are headed? Not at all!

Because how can the youngsters learn and know the detestability of such places if not from their seniors, who should  be setting an example for the young ones, morally and otherwise?  Believe me this spectre that I saw in Gobabis, is not confined to the capital of the Cattle Country but is a sad phenomenon all over the country. And sadly, it is not an exception these days but the rule. Somehow, our society, localities, neighbourhoods and communities seriously need to go back to the moral drawing board. I may not have an idea what the ways of our foremothers and forefathers may have been but we earnestly and urgently need to go back to those ways as archaic as some may think they may have been and not fitted to modern times.

But the modern times, if anything at all, are proving to be bad news and a bad omen. My heart really bleeds for those, the teachers, who on a daily basis, are expected to deal with the youngsters of today, while we the parents seem to totally have lost control of our children, even in our homes. Needless to say our society needs a serious indaba to arrest if not reverse the rot that is menacingly eating away at the core fabric of our society, locations, neighbourhoods and communities, with our youngsters and the leaders of tomorrow being victims number one. And the first port of call in addressing this vice, is none other than the various drinking holes in our towns, villages, communities, localities and neighbourhoods. While in the past this vice seemed to have been an urban problem only, today it is no longer the case because alcohol and drug abuse affect every corner of our social living, urban and rural.

No long ago the Katutura Central Constituency councillor, Ambrossius Kandjii, seemed to have earned the wrath of a section of the Katutura community for his determined crusade against shebeens at the Ovaherero Mall. Yes, there may have been miscommunication and working at crosspurposes in this endeavour. But this time around residents of the Single Quarters are voicing their grave concerns in no uncertain or ambivalent terms regarding vice of shebeening in their area. As much learners themselves around the area are speaking up, and one cannot help but listen to them and act consequently. Because their future is in great danger due to noise pollution and what have you, rendering their learning and attending to their scholarly matters an impossible undertaking. Not to speak of the dangers posed to them by these shebeens in and around their homes with some of their homes actually being the shebeens.

Granted, yes shebeens may be a vital source of income to some of our people, and legitimately so, but this cannot and should not be at the expense of retrogression in our communities, and their eventual demise. How long, one wonders shall communities stand beside and look and allow such undesirable and destructive conditions to be visited upon especially children? Is there nothing that the authorities can do? And how much really have they been doing? And of course society and communities themselves? Is this now not the time for some drastic measures on this matter? If not now, then when?
Kae Matundu-Tjiparuro

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